National Weather Service hydrologist weighs in on snow water content, flooding potential

GRAND FORKS — Snow piles across the region may be several feet high, but their water content in the Grand Forks area may only be about a few inches, according to current estimates from the National Weather Service.

While there still isn't a spring flood outlook, the Weather Service reports that there are about 2.6 inches of water content in the snowpack. The numbers are similar in the Fargo area as well.

"That is running a little bit on the high side," said hydrologist Amanda Lee." Three to 4 might be more what we see during flood time."

A wet fall and snowy winter have hydrologists concerned about what spring will bring.

"If you remember last winter, up until this point was fairly quiet," Lee said. "It wasn't until we got to February where we really got hit hard ... a lot is still going to depend on what happens in the next couple months (with) snow and any rain."


Lee added that major flooding isn't guaranteed by snow water content. A slow, steady slow melt, like last year's, could keep flooding less severe.

"Spring 2019 ended up not being as bad as expected because we melted so nicely, so slowly for (a) four to six week period," she said.

Still, the Weather Service is suggesting residents in vulnerable areas get flood insurance — just in case.

"A lot is still going to depend on what happens in the next couple months — snow and rain-wise," Lee said.

The National Weather Service is putting out its first spring flood outlook of the year next week.

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