Potential Rain and Warmth Could Mean Flooding

Northland Agencies Prepare for Flooding.

DULUTH, Minn.-  Normally the first rainfall this time of year means spring is upon us.

But being under this much snow with warmer temperatures, means it can spell out trouble, in the form of flooding.

“The old saying is ‘turn around, don’t drown.'”

That message is what Keith Kesler of Douglas County Emergency Management is advising drivers this week.

“I just heard that the snowpack we have in Northwest Wisconsin is equivalent to 8 inches of water,” Kesler said. “So if we get that snowpack melting over a short period of time, it will make significant runoff.”

This is due to the larger snow piles at the side of the road. covering important drain points.

“Mainly it’s gonna be nuisance level flooding, because of frozen drainages,” said Steve Gohde, Hydrologist and Observing Program Team Leader with the National Weather Service.

“Beyond that, I suppose when we refreeze, it’s gonna be a challenge because it’s gonna be very sloppy out there.”

And a lot of the water has only one place to go: streets.

“There’s bound to be a lot of high water on roads, y’know if it’s on the edge of the road and stuff,” Kesler said.

“You don’t know what’s underneath it, if it’s on the road you don’t know what’s underneath it.”

High water could also threaten some area homes.

Meanwhile, the City of Duluth is on high alert for the high water, saying in a statement:

“Teams have been assigned around the City to open catch basins and storm drains to ensure that the system is open and functioning. Specialized equipment is also being utilized to thaw frozen culverts.”

Large snowpacks this time of year are normal.

But if they absorb the expected rain for this week, they’ll become like heavy sponges.

“The additional weight, like I said the white sponge, the snowpack that we have now, is gonna be able to absorb quite a bit of this rainfall,” Gohde said.

“That’s gonna create a lot more weight for folks who have snowfall on their roofs.”

“It’s unbelievable how much that snow weighs already,” Kesler said. “Now if you soak it up with water, it’s going to get even worse.”

Not only could flooding increase on highways and roads, it could cause other issues, too.

“Whenever we have this much rain or moisture over snowfall and a melting snowpack and we get warmer temps, we get foggy too,” Gohde said. “So that’s another hazard we’re gonna be expecting.”

The City of Duluth asks to give them a call at if you notice large areas of standing water.

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