There’s an updated spring flood forecast for Wisconsin, and much of it is dependent on how fast conditions warm up. “The flood outlook that we’re doing this time of year takes into account many factors,” said Mike Welvaert, a hydrologist with the National Weather Service at La Crosse. “We take all that, and run it through our computer simulations and come up with a number. Right now overall across Wisconsin, especially the southwest part of the state, I would say the flood risk or flood potential is probably just a little bit above normal.”
In addition to the considerable amount of snow still on the ground, Welvaert said extended very cold temperatures have driven frost deep into the ground across much of Wisconsin. “So even once the snow departs, we’re going to have frost for a while. And any rainfall on top of that is going to run off pretty quickly. So we’re going to have an enhanced risk for flooding even as we get into April and May.”
With heaviest snow pack from west-central to northern Wisconsin, Welvaert says rivers like the St. Croix, Chippewa and upper Wisconsin could see “enhanced risk” for flooding, depending on how the snow melt goes. The best case scenario to minimize flooding will be a gradual warm up, with mild days and cold nights.