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John Wheeler, WDAY, Published October 26 2012

Weather Talk: Spring flooding concerns should remain hypothetical

Recent rainfall was absorbed by the soil very nicely, thank you. Despite 1 to 2 inches of rain, rivers hardly rose at all.

Over time, this water will continue to seep downward, percolating into the still dry subsoil. Because evaporation is minimal during the cold weather season, the soil across the region will not have a chance until spring to become as dry as it had been before the rain.

So what effect does our renewed soil moisture have on the spring flood outlook? Obviously, the overriding cause of spring flooding will be winter snowfall and spring rainfall – two things unknowable in the fall. But the newfound moisture in the soil will mean less moisture absorption of runoff in the spring. Dry soils have honeycombed ice within the frost layer as opposed to solidly frozen, relatively impervious clay.

But any concern about another spring flood should remain hypothetical until we start seeing heavy snow accumulations. The drought of 2012 has effectively reversed the flood potential to the less concerning pre-2009 level.


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