As snow adds up, so will flood risk
Take a look at that blanket of white outside, and what you're really looking at is about 2 inches of water.
That's not enough to raise alarms about the potential for spring flooding, but it warrants keeping an eye on things.
"There's still a lot of winter ahead," said Steve Buan, service coordinator hydrologist with the National Weather Service in Chanhassen.
At this point, Buan said the moisture content in the snowpack in the drainage basin of the Minnesota River is not a cause for concern. The snow and water levels are very close to what an "average" winter would bring, he said.
But he noted that additional snowfall and continued cold temperatures could raise the potential for flood concerns.
Now is the time for people to pay attention to the flood potential if thinking about purchasing flood insurance. There is a 30-day waiting period from the purchase of the insurance to its effective date, so decisions on flood insurance should be made in late February or early March at the latest.
The historic period for spring flooding in the Minnesota River valley is early-to-mid April, although they can occur earlier.
The Weather Service will be announcing its determination of the flood risk for the region on Feb. 27. A wet fall, and the snowfall to date, all favor the possibility of some flood potential above what the area has seen in the last couple of years.
The Weather Service is keeping a close eye on conditions to the northwest, where the flood potential is already evident. Buan said that the moisture content in the snowpack is above 2 inches as you go north and west from a line drawn roughly between Marshall and St. Cloud. The moisture content reaches 3 inches in the Wahpeton and Breckenridge areas, and goes as high as 5 to 6 inches in central North Dakota.