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National Weather Service Releases Spring Flood Outlook - Valley News Live - KVLY/KXJB - Fargo/Grand Forks

National Weather Service Releases Spring Flood Outlook

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FEBURARY 2014 OUTLOOK

On Thursday, the National Weather Service released an updated spring flood outlook. They say not much has changed from the previous outlook released in January and the risk for substantial flooding still appears low. They do say a delayed thaw is expected, so exposure to heavier snow or rain is possible.

Soil moisture and stream flow conditions across the Red River and Devils Lake Basins are running mainly within the seasonal normal ranges, between 25 to 75 percent of seasonally adjusted historical values, with these notable exceptions:

  - Soil moistures for areas south and southwest from the Fargo-Moorhead area (ND Wild Rice) are running higher than normal, better than the 90th percentile, due to carryover from heavy summer/fall rains.

 - Base Streamflows across the Basins are running in the 25-75th percentiles for this time of year.

 - Snowpack is near long term normals, ranging from a low of 8-12 inches in the far south to a high of 2-3 feet in the far north and northeast, highest along the CanAm border into the Lake of the Woods.

 - Snowwater is somewhat less than long term normals, largely due to the much colder and drier winter airmasses experienced during this current winter period.  Water content is running from 1 to 2 inches in the southern basin (south of Halstad), and from 2 to 3 inches central (Halstad through Oslo), and 3.0 to 4.5 in the north (north of Oslo).  

The short-term weather forecast calls for a sharp drop back to below normal temperatures from February 21 into the first week of March, high temps staying below freezing through March 5, which means no early spring, according to the National Weather Service.            

Climate outlook through the spring snowmelt period looks like the current "colder" weather pattern will persist well into March and early April.  This climate pattern suggests below normal temperatures and near normal precipitation as far as water content goes, which should result in near to above normal snowfall, since colder air has less moisture and produces somewhat fluffier snow.

The next Spring Flood Outlooks will be issued on March 6, 2014.

JANUARY 2014 OUTLOOK

The National Weather Service on Friday released the first spring flood forecast for 2014.  It says there is a 5% chance the Red River at Fargo-Moohread will hit 37.3 feet. There is a 10% chance it will hit 34.4 feet and a 25% chance of hitting 31.8 feet. 

Minor flood stage for the Red River at Fargo-Moorhead is 18 feet, moderate flood stage is 25 and Major flood stage is 30 feet. The Weather Service says there is a 95% chance of the Red at Fargo-Moorhead hitting 19.5 feet and a 90% chance of hitting 21.3 feet.

The Weather Service says right now, the snow pack is near long-term normals ranging from 8 inches in the far south to near 2 feet in the far north and northeast. The water content of the snow is less than long-term normals overall, largely due to the much colder and drier winter.

Climate outlook for January 31 to February 6 calls for more below normal temperatures and above median precipitation. The basic weather pattern that has been in place since December 2013 is expected to remain essentially unchanged into February.

 For the months of February, March and April the Weather Service says the same basic pattern is forecast to linger.  This suggests frequent cold snaps with brief, but dramatic, warm-ups.

Overall, the climate patterns suggest below normal temperatures and near normal precipitation and water content, which should result in near to above median snowfall for the next 30 to 60 days. Experts say the colder air has less moisture but fluffier snow.

To get a look at the entire National Weather Service Outlook for up and down the valley, click on the link to the right of this story.

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