As Snow Continues To Pile Up, Spring Flooding Concerns Rise

SOUTH DAKOTA- Snow has been piling up across the viewing area over the last month with none of it melting away. The concern for spring time flooding rises as we stare down another storm this weekend.

Meteorological spring has gotten off to a very cold start. This has caused the soil to be frozen down to 3 feet in a lot of areas.

“It is frozen, as that snow melts, the frozen soil acts more like concrete, the water is not able to soak into the soil. So, you’re getting a larger percentage running off into our river systems”, said Mike Gillispie, hydrologist at the National Weather Service in Sioux Falls.

For those of us that live in the southern portion of rivers in South Dakota, our worry isn’t on our own snow pack. It’s actually on how much they have north of us.

Gillispie explained, “all of that snow is going to eventually come into the Big Sioux River basin and work its way downstream. The volume of water we’re looking at that’s going to be coming through the Sioux Falls area is going to be pretty significant”.

As much as we all want to be warm, sunny, and able to be active outdoors, that isn’t the best idea given the winter we have had so far.

“I’m looking forward to warm weather as much as anybody, but if we get too much warmth, and any rain on top of this too quickly. We could really have some significant problems in eastern South Dakota”, said Gillispie.

There is one last risk we need to worry about on our area waterways.

“The ice has gotten fairly thick on rivers and streams across the area. The river levels start rising, that ice is going to break up and start moving downstream. So, ice jams are going to be a real possibility as we head into the spring”, Gillispie said.

Gillispie said he has been in talks with officials in the Watertown area, and they are already preparing for the floods we could see this Spring.

So, as much as we all want to wave goodbye to the snow and ice, that goodbye is going to have to happen slowly.



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