Spring flooding is always a concern after the winter season. Warmer temperatures and ice melt are two reminders that let us know waters may soon rise. One spring flooding outlook has been issued and there is good news to report.
The warmer weather is beginning to melt snow and ice. Attention is being turned to local rivers and streams because the spring flood outlook is not a laughable matter. For some west coast Wisconsinites, it's like a fifth season as they keep a close eye on the temperatures, precipitation and "...snow pack, which across our area locally is much below normal", says John Wetenkamp, a meteorologist at the La Crosse National Weather Service. Wetenkamp continues by adding, "...but a little more snow once you get into Minnesota; central Minnesota, which would impact the Mississippi River."
The snowfall deficit this year means only small rises, if any, on local rivers. John talks about the spring flooding outlook, "As it stands, it's looking like we probably won't; there's a low probability of seeing flooding in our area."
It's not only Mother Nature, but also luck that plays a roll in springtime flooding. The unpredictability of ice dams and jams upstream have the potential to change that flooding probability downstream. Hallie Rasmussen, the visitor services manager for the Upper Mississippi River Wildlife and Fish Refuge says, "Tributaries are coming in. We could have ice dams that kind of form there. What happens then is the water has no place to go, so like the Root River; when it comes into the main channel on the Mississippi, if there's an ice dam that can flow, it can flood really quickly."
Flooding around boat landings can also be dangerous. Rasmussen adds, "Don't put yourself in an unsafe situation. That's really our biggest thing; safety first." Now is the time to stay up to date with the forecast and be proactive. John talks about not letting your guard down, "Be alert for rising water levels and monitor forecasts closely; and be prepared to move away from the river and get to higher ground if flooding is expected."
Pooling all this advice together will save you from becoming swamped if flooding occurs this spring. The final spring flooding outlook is set to be released by the La Crosse National Weather Service this Thursday with no major changes or updates expected.