It's been a snowy few weeks across central North Dakota - with many areas picking up another inch or two of snow over the weekend.
But how are things looking when it comes to flood potential?
Jim Olson takes a look at the snowpack as we head into a critical time of year for the Souris-Mouse River system.
(Jim Tarasenko, NC Research Ext. Ctr.) "Let's just walk over this way..."
Jim Tarasenko has been busy in recent days - measuring new snow amounts just about every day.
Tarasenko records official snowfall and water content readings for the NDSU Research Extension Center just south of Minot. He says this winter is shaping up to be pretty average so far.
(Jim Tarasenko, NC Research Ext. Ctr.) "I believe so, yes. I just measured about nine inches of snow on the ground."
But how does that translate into potential runoff in the spring? That's what hydrologists like Allen Schlag at the National Weather Service are working on right now. Those experts will be making a report to the international group that manages the Souris-Mouse River system this month. And that report will go a long way toward deciding who will be in charge of the river's management. If they decide it's a potential "one in ten" year - meaning a top 10% year for moisture - management of the river will be taken over by the US Army Corps of Engineers on the south side of the border. If that one in ten proclamation isn't made, the US Fish and Wildlife Service will maintain control over the river's management for the spring - just as it is the rest of the year.
Here's a look at some of the data the hydrologists are no doubt poring over these days. The snow depth and the snow water equivalent are two key indicators. In snow depth, it appears Canada has had a pretty snowy winter - here is the latest estimate from the National Weather Service for snow depths - with the deeper blues indicating 16 to 20 inches of snow. Notice that areas downstream on the Mouse River - from Minot to Velva to Towner have significantly less snow right now. And, check this out - one week ago, there was much less snow across the entire basin - indicating just how much snow has fallen in recent days. When it comes to snow water equivalent, the maps show the higher water content is also in Canada, where the Souris River forms. Comparing the current water content to two years ago - the year generally accepted as the wettest on record - you can see there is quite a difference - 2011 had much higher water content at this time of year, especially in western areas of the watershed - look toward Columbus and Crosby where Long Creek reached record levels that spring.
What's it all mean for spring flooding? We'll get the first flood outlook from the National Weather Service this month, and the International Souris River Board will make its "one in ten" determination in about two weeks. Jim Olson, KX News.
The National Weather Service issues its first flood outlook in a couple of weeks with further updates coming as the spring melt progresses.