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Causes for Spring Flooding
Spring flooding is caused by a variety of factors, including heavy late summer and fall precipitation, which leaves soils saturated and streams running high before the winter freeze; heavy winter snowfall resulting in deep snowpack; stable below-freezing temperatures throughout the winter delaying snow melt; frozen and/or saturated ground, which inhibits infiltration of water into the soil; rapid snowpack melt due to warming springtime temperatures; backwater flooding due to ice jams; and heavy spring rainfall accelerating snow melt and adding to the high volume of water already in river systems. The rate at which temperatures warm this spring, along with the impacts of any additional precipitation, will determine the magnitude, timing and extent of the flooding.
National Weather Service models show this year’s snowpack in the north-central U.S. contains a water content ranked among the highest of the last 60 years.
Heavy rainfall at any time can lead to river flooding, even in areas where overall river flood potential is considered below average. Find current hydrologic information specific to your area online.
Floods are the deadliest weather phenomena – claiming an average of 100 lives annually. Many of these deaths occur in automobiles and are preventable. If confronted with a water-covered road on foot or in an automobile, follow National Weather Service advice: Turn Around, Don’t Drown.