Flood outlook low hereThe moisture content in the snow surrounding Jamestown appears less than normal, according to Bob Martin, manager for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers at Pipestem Dam.
By: By Keith Norman, The Jamestown Sun, The Jamestown Sun
The moisture content in the snow surrounding Jamestown appears less than normal, according to Bob Martin, manager for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers at Pipestem Dam.
Martin took measurements of the snow from one of his test locations Monday.
“The Feb. 4 reading was 1.15 inches of moisture in the snow,” he said. “That was up from 0.68 inches of moisture on Jan. 22.”
The water equivalent in the snow is found by melting the snow and measuring the moisture of the average snow depth of the area. The average snow depth at the Pipestem Dam offices stood at 8.8 inches as of Monday compared to 5.8 inches on Jan. 22.
Martin said the water equivalents are minimal compared to the measurements taken during the heavy snow years of the winters of 2009 and 2010.
“Those years the moisture content ranged between 3 inches and 5 inches during the late winter and spring,” he said.
The National Weather Service flood outlook also reflects the lower levels of moisture on the ground this winter. The forecast issued Jan. 26 and valid until April 26 places the chance of flooding at Pipestem Creek at Pingree at 12 percent for minor flooding of 9 feet, 6 percent for moderate flooding of 11 feet and less than 5 percent chance of major flooding of 13 feet.
The probability of flooding at the James River at LaMoure stand at 7 percent for minor flooding of 14 feet and less than 5 percent for moderate flooding of 16 feet or major flooding of 18 feet.
The low levels of snow and the low probability of flooding have led officials to limit releases from Pipestem and Jamestown dams.
The current releases of 2 cubic feet per second from Pipestem match the amount of water flowing into the body of water from underground springs. No water has been released from Jamestown Dam since June.
“The releases are planned to stay at those levels until the situation changes,” Martin said.
Updates to the amount of moisture on the ground and the flood probabilities will occur as time progresses.
“If we do get snow between now and spring it is likely to be wetter than the snow we’ve gotten so far,” he said. “How much wet snow and what spring rains we get will make the difference in the runoff.”
Sun reporter Keith Norman can be reached at 701-952-8452 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org