Spring Flood Forecast Released: Above average flood potential for West River

RAPID CITY, S.D. – The Spring flood forecast has been released by the National Weather Service

2019 was a year for the books with record breaking cold, recording breaking rainfall and a summer that seemed to have an endless supply of thunderstorms. With 2020 getting started we’re starting to get an idea of what the Spring could look like for our region. The big question – are we looking at more floods for this year?

Melissa Smith, a hydrologist with the National Weather Service in Rapid City talked about the report.

“Right now, we have an above average flood potential for areas in western south Dakota out in the plains, mainly East of the Rapid City area.” Smith explained, “Areas further East are already saturated and are already have quite a bit of snow on the ground this winter, their flood potential is going to be much higher.”

Snow depth is a factor that is used to determine spring flood potential, but snow alone didn’t cause the record breaking floods last year.

With the record breaking cold in February of last year, frost depth and ice buildup on rivers compounded an already saturated environment.

With mild temperatures and relatively low snow totals in West River through December and January however, frost depth and ice buildup on rivers will be less of a factor this year – but we still have plenty of winter before we can rest easy.

Smith continued,

“So we still have two of our snowier months to go, March and April, and that’s typically when we see probably a third of our snowfall out here.”

For residents of the Black Hills, preparations for an above average flood season in the Black Hills look a little different.

Alexa White, Deputy Director of Pennington County Emergency Management talked about preparations specifically for flash flooding.

“Being prepared for flash flooding is probably more what our residents here on this side of the state need to think about.” White explained, “Don’t drive through flooded roadways. You don’t know how long the water has been there, you don’t know what the road underneath looks like, you don’t know if its intact and last year when we did have some of this flash flooding there were some people who found out the hard way that the road underneath is not intact.”

Trends and patterns in meteorology are an important piece of long range forecasting. Records show the Black hills go through wet and dry cycles, lasting around 5-10 years  each. Right now we’re in year 11 of an overall wet cycle since 2008 – A wet Spring in 2020 would make it 12. More snow is in the forecast for Monday.

If you want to find out more about how to prepare for potential floods or other natural disasters, click HERE



Categories: Local News, South Dakota News