Warm-up This Week Will Initiate Spring Thaw -- Issued Thursday March 17, 2011

HYDROLOGIC OUTLOOK
NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE EASTERN NORTH DAKOTA/GRAND FORKS ND
1155 AM CDT THU MAR 17 2011

...SPRING THAW PROGRESS FOR RED RIVER OF THE NORTH...

...MINNESOTA AND NORTH DAKOTA TRIBUTARIES START TO WAKE UP...

RECENT WARM WEATHER HAS STARTED THE TRADITIONAL SPRING SNOWMELT
PROCESS ACROSS THE RED RIVER BASIN. MORE URBANIZED AREAS HAVE SEEN
PONDING OF MELT WATERS NEAR CITY STREETS AND URBAN DITCHES...WHILE
LOCAL RUNOFF HAS BEGUN TO REACH TRIBUTARIES ACROSS HEADWATER PORTIONS
OF THE SOUTHERN BASIN. RIVER GAGE LOCATIONS ON THE BUFFALO RIVER IN
MINNESOTA HAVE SEEN SOME GENTLE RISES AND COULD RISE TO NEAR MINOR
FLOOD LEVELS EARLY NEXT WEEK. SOME MINOR RISES HAVE ALSO BEEN NOTED
ON THE NORTH DAKOTA WILD RICE RIVER UPSTREAM OF ABERCROMBIE. THE
OTTER TAIL AND BOIS DE SIOUX RIVERS HAVE SEEN EARLIER RISES DUE TO
RESERVOIR RELEASES...AND ARE STARTING TO SHOW INCREASED OPENED WATER
FLOW DOWNSTREAM FROM THOSE DAMS.

COOLER TEMPERATURES OVER THE NEXT COUPLE OF DAYS ARE EXPECTED TO
SLOW THIS OVERALL RESPONSE A BIT...AND LEVELS SHOULD REMAIN NEAR OR
BELOW MINOR FLOOD STAGES ALONG THESE TRIBUTARIES WELL INTO NEXT WEEK.
SEE THE 7-DAY OUTLOOK BELOW FOR MORE DETAILED INFORMATION.

LATEST ANALYSIS:

WITH THE RECENT WARM WEATHER...SNOW DEPTHS HAVE SHRUNK ACROSS THE
RED RIVER BASIN AND THE SNOWPACK CONTINUES TO WARM AND TO BECOME MORE
DENSE. AS THE SNOWPACK WARMS YET TODAY...LARGER AREAS OF MELT WILL
BE EVIDENT...ESPECIALLY IN AREAS OF SHALLOWER SNOW DEPTH IN THE
NORTHERN HALF OF THE RED RIVER BASIN FROM HILLSBORO TOWARDS DRAYTON
AND IN HIGHER ELEVATION AREAS ALONG THE RED RIVER BASIN FRINGE EAST
OF FERGUS FALLS AND SOUTHWEST OF LIDGERWOOD.

SNOWPACK TEMPERATURES IN SOUTHEASTERN NORTH DAKOTA ARE NEAR THE
MELT/FREEZE POINT SOUTH OF OAKES TO ENDERLIN AND THEN ON TO THE
ND/SD/MN BORDER AREA. OTHERWISE...EASTERN ND SNOWPACK TEMPERATURES
ARE STILL BELOW FREEZING BUT HAVE WARMED TO THE MIDDLE TO UPPER 20S.
SNOWPACK TEMPERATURES HAVE WARMED TO THE MELTING POINT IN THE LAKES
AREA OF WEST CENTRAL MINNESOTA...SOUTH AND EAST OF FERGUS FALLS...
AND ALSO IN THE MORE FORESTED AREAS OF NORTHWEST MINNESOTA NORTH AND
EAST OF FERGUS FALLS TO MAHNOMEN AND ON TO THE RED LAKES. OTHERWISE
MINNESOTA SNOWPACK TEMPERATURES IN NORTHWESTERN MINNESOTA WERE IN
THE UPPER 20`S.

SNOW WATER EQUIVALENTS...SWE...HAVE DIMINISHED A BIT WITH THE WARM
WEATHER AND RANGE GENERALLY FROM 3 TO 5 INCHES SOUTH OF CANDO ND TO
PORTLAND-MAYVILLE ND AND ON TO FERGUS FALLS MN. OTHERWISE...THE SWE
VALUES RANGE FROM ONE TO THREE INCHES IN THE NORTHEASTERN NORTH
DAKOTA AND NORTHWESTERN AND WEST CENTRAL MINNESOTA SNOWPACK.

WITH THE RECENT WARMER WEATHER THERE HAVE BEEN SOME GENTLE RISES OF
LESS THAN A FOOT OR TWO ON MANY RED RIVER TRIBUTARY LOCATIONS. WITH
THE ANTICIPATED COOL DOWN...THESE RISES SHOULD DIMINISH OR STOP UNTIL
THE NEXT SIGNIFICANT WARM UP. MOST OF THE TRIBUTARIES AND THE
MAINSTEM RED STILL REMAIN ICE COVERED. CONSEQUENTLY...ICE JAM
FLOODING MAY OCCUR FROM NOW UNTIL THE RIVERS BECOME ICE FREE.

OUTLOOK FOR THE NEXT 7 DAYS:

GENERALLY MILD WEATHER EARLY THIS PERIOD WILL ALLOW FOR A GRADUAL
MELT...ESPECIALLY IN THE SOUTHERN RED RIVER VALLEY. SLOW RUNOFF WILL
CAUSE A FEW OF THE TRIBUTARIES TO CONTINUE TO SEE SLIGHT RISES AS
SNOWMELT PROGRESSES. GENERALLY COLDER WEATHER WILL RETURN TO THE
REGION THROUGH THE WEEKEND WITH SCATTERED SHOWERS OF MIXED RAIN OR
SNOW. PRECIPITATION AMOUNTS THIS WEEKEND WILL BE LIGHT...UNDER ONE
QUARTER INCH. HOWEVER...A MORE SIGNIFICANT STORM SYSTEM MAY
BRING SUBSTANTIAL PRECIPITATION TO THE AREA NEXT TUESDAY.

WHERE RUNOFF DOES OCCUR SOME PONDING OF WATER MAY DEVELOP AS DITCHES
AND CULVERTS REMAIN FROZEN. WITH THE COLDER WEATHER THE RUNOFF SHOULD
SLOW OR STOP COMPLETELY BY EARLY NEXT WEEK. BY NEXT THURSDAY ANOTHER
WARM UP IS ANTICIPATED WITH INCREASING CHANCES FOR ADDITIONAL
PRECIPITATION.

OUTLOOK FOR THE NEXT 8 TO 14 DAYS:

A CONTINUED SHIFT IN THE WEATHER PATTERN SUGGESTS AN INCREASINGLY
STORMY PATTERN MAY DEVELOP AS WE GET INTO THE LAST FULL WEEK OF
MARCH. A MORE NORMAL TEMPERATURE PATTERN...WITH DAYTIME HIGHS ABOVE
FREEZING AND NIGHTTIME LOWS BELOW FREEZING...WILL RESTART THE GRADUAL
MELT. ON BALANCE...THE LAST FULL WEEK OF MARCH IS EXPECTED TO HAVE
ABOVE NORMAL PRECIPITATION. THIS WOULD SUGGEST ONE HALF OF AN INCH
PRECIPITATION...OR MORE...COULD OCCUR. THE DEVELOPING PATTERN...VERY
TYPICAL OF SPRING AND A WANING LA NINA...HAS THE POTENTIAL TO PRODUCE
A SIGNIFICANT STORM SYSTEM IN THE PLAINS. THE NWS WILL MONITOR THE
DEVELOPING PATTERN VERY CLOSELY AS THIS PATTERN WILL BE DEVELOPING
DURING THE CRUCIAL SNOW MELT PERIOD.

BEYOND 14 DAYS:

THE CLIMATOLOGY OF A LA NINA SPRING SUGGESTS AN ENHANCED LIKELIHOOD
FOR ABOVE NORMAL PRECIPITATION INTO EARLY APRIL. INFORMATION
PROVIDED BY THE CLIMATE PREDICTION CENTER CALLS FOR THE PROBABILITY
OF ABOVE NORMAL PRECIPITATION...WHICH WOULD MAINTAIN CONDITIONS FOR
AN ENHANCED FLOOD RISK INTO THE MONTH. AS SIGNIFICANT FLOODING WILL
LIKELY OCCUR DURING EARLY APRIL...ANY ADDITIONAL PRECIPITATION WOULD
ENHANCE THAT FLOOD RISK.

ADDITIONAL HYDROLOGIC OUTLOOK INFORMATION:

THE NWS OFFICE IN GRAND FORKS WILL BE CLOSELY MONITORING WEATHER AND
RIVER CONDITIONS AND ISSUE FLOOD WARNINGS AND STATEMENTS...AS WELL
AS 7-DAY RIVER FORECASTS WHEN WE EXPECT THE RIVER TO REACH OR EXCEED
FLOOD STAGE WITHIN THAT PERIOD.

REFER TO THE SPRING FLOOD OUTLOOKS FOR MORE SPECIFIC INFORMATION ON
THE CHANCES OF FLOODING AT ON THE RED RIVER OF THE NORTH AND ITS
MINNESOTA AND NORTH DAKOTA TRIBUTARIES. IF CONDITIONS WARRANT...THE
NEXT PROBABILISTIC SPRING FLOOD OUTLOOK WILL BE ISSUED ON THURSDAY...
MARCH 24TH...2011.

REFER TO THE SPRING FLOOD OUTLOOKS FOR MORE SPECIFIC INFORMATION ON
THE CHANCES OF FLOODING FOR THE RED RIVER OF THE NORTH AND ITS
MINNESOTA AND NORTH DAKOTA TRIBUTARIES. THESE SPRING FLOOD AND WATER
RESOURCES OUTLOOKS ARE ISSUED SEVERAL TIMES DURING THE CRITICAL
SPRING MELT PERIOD...USUALLY FROM EARLY MARCH TO EARLY APRIL...
DEPENDING ON CONDITIONS.

THE OUTLOOKS ARE PRESENTED AS TEXT PRODUCTS AND GRAPHS FOR THE CHANCE
OF REACHING OR EXCEEDING MINOR...MODERATE AND MAJOR FLOOD STAGES...AS
WELL AS PROBABILITIES THAT THE RIVER WILL REACH OR EXCEED THE STAGES
GIVEN FOR THE RIVER LOCATIONS PROVIDED FOR THE FULL VALID PERIOD AND
FOR WEEKLY INTERVALS DURING THE PERIOD.

THESE GRAPHS...TEXT PRODUCTS AND EXPLANATIONS THAT HELP INTERPRETING
THEM ARE AVAILABLE FROM THE NWS GRAND FORKS AHPS WEB PAGE ON THE
INTERNET AT:
                  WWW.WEATHER.GOV/GRANDFORKS

THEN CLICK ON THE "RIVERS AND LAKES AHPS" TAB ABOVE THE MAP OR THE
LINK IN THE MENU ON THE LEFT SIDE OF THE WEB PAGE.

CURRENT RIVER CONDITIONS FOR ALL RIVER FORECAST POINTS IN THE RED
RIVER OF THE NORTH BASIN AND DEVILS/STUMP LAKE CONDITIONS ARE ALSO
AVAILABLE ON OUR WEB SITE...AS WELL AS THE 7-DAY FORECASTS WHEN
THE RIVER AT THE FORECAST POINT IS IN OR NEAR FLOOD.

IF YOU HAVE ANY QUESTIONS...CONTACT THE NWS AT 701-772-0720.





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