John Wheeler: So many factors other than snow accumulation affect spring flooding
The weather in other places can bring unexpected changes.
FARGO — The point has been made in this space many times that the total winter snow accumulation does not relate particularly well to the severity of the spring flood. The water content in the snowpack, which is not necessarily related to the depth of the snow, is a far better indicator. Also very important is any heavy precipitation, particularly rain, during or shortly before the main melt, as well as the rate of melt.
Also, the weather in other places can bring unexpected changes. Red River tributaries include the Otter Tail and Red Lake, which arrive from the east; the Bois De Sioux, which comes up from the south; the Wild Rice, which brings water from the south; and the Sheyenne, which drains a large area of southeast and central North Dakota. Varying amounts of water and differences in timing from these sub-basins can all impact the flooding downstream.