Snow Totals Rising - KXNet.com - Bismarck/Minot/Williston/Dickinson-KXNEWS,ND

Snow Totals Rising

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An already snowy winter could get even snowier in the next few days in North Dakota.

There's the chance that some of us could be shoveling another several inches of snow - maybe a foot or more for some people - by next week.

And water releases from Lake Darling are being increased ahead of schedule.

Jim Olson reports on the snowpack and the flood outlook for the region.

So far this winter, Jim Tarasenko at North Central Research Extension Center near Minot has recorded 49 inches of snow.

That's ten inches over the average for a full winter for this area.

And now, there are forecasts that there could be another major snowfall this weekend.

(Tom Schrader, Meteorologist) "It looks like a pretty snowy few days."

Meteorologist Tom Schrader says forecast models are seeing two chances of measurable snow in the next few days.

(Tom Schrader, Meteorologist) "When the first one comes in tonight and Friday it looks like in the northern counties we could get 4-6" with an isolated 7" and that's round one. Round two comes in Sunday and Sunday night with more moisture and it'll be colder so it'll be a pretty efficient snow maker. "

Those projections are very preliminary - but the models certainly suggest lots of moisture for the region.

If we were to get another foot of snow this weekend, our season total would surpass 60 inches.

That's a lot - but still well under the record set two years ago of 84 inches.

As for the flood implications of our snowy winter - the latest snow depth maps from NOAA show that this winter may be more snowy across the Souris-Mouse River watershed than two years ago.

The current snow depth estimate is on the top left and the snow depth estimate from this date two years ago is on the lower right.

A closer look shows the difference from two years ago. Here's March of 2011 - and here is the estimate today, with darker colors indicating a more widespread area of 20 to 30 inches of snow depth this winter in the area that drains into the Mouse and Des Lacs Rivers.

And calls I've received from people living in the region - from places like Lignite - indicate people are seeing full ditches and high snowpacks this winter.

Water releases from Lake Darling Dam were increased to 250 cubic feet per second today - a day earlier than first planned - to make room in the lake for increased flows from Canada.

Saskatchewan's Water Security Agency estimated early this month that the area where the Souris River forms has normal to above normal snow pack - although the most northern reaches of the watershed have very high snow pack levels.

Hydrologist Alan Schlag has said that one factor in favor of avoiding major flooding this year could be the soil moisture level.

Two years ago, the soil was saturated and able to absorb very little of the snowmelt.

But this year, the soil is significantly, meaning a larger percentage of the melted snow will have the chance of soaking into the soil.

Water managers with the International Souris River Board met last month and declined to proclaim this a "one in ten" year for projected runoff, meaning they do not believe this year's water volume will be in the top 10% of recorded flows. Of course, they can reconsider that decision if snowfall continues late this winter.

A new flood outlook from the National Weather Service will be released one week from today.

It's worth noting that the record flooding in 2011 along the Mouse River was ultimately triggered by heavy rains in May and June, not exclusively by the high snow melt of that spring.

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