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Snowpack adds up to elevated flood risk in Upper Minnesota River basin

Tribune file photo Will snowplows be pushing liquid water when all of this snow melts, as in this Tribune file photo from 2011? The National Weather Service advises that the flood risk is elevated in the Upper Minnesota River basin due to the snowpack, frost depth and the wet fall conditions.

WILLMAR — All of this snow is adding up to an increased potential for spring flooding.

The National Weather Service in the Twin Cities issued its first spring flooding advisory for the season last week. The advisory stated that there is an elevated risk for flooding in the Upper Minnesota River basin.

A large snowpack, deep frost, and the groundwater content going into the winter are among the factors contributing to the increased risk. The snowpack holds the water equivalent of three to five inches in the headwaters of the Mississippi and tributaries to the Minnesota River in southwest Minnesota.

A frost depth of two to four feet raises the possibility of a fast runoff.

With an elevated risk, the National Weather Service is urging residents in flood-prone areas to pay close attention to advisories in the coming week.

Near normal to above normal precipitation, and a period of very warm temperatures in March, would increase the flood threat, according to the Weather Service.

Current indications are for cooler and drier-than-normal conditions in early March, the Weather Service reported. Long-range models indicate some moderating temperatures and precipitation later in the month.

Tom Cherveny

Tom Cherveny is a regional and outdoor reporter with the West Central Tribune in Willmar, MN.

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