How can snow melt cause flooding?

Published: Tuesday, February 05, 2019 @ 9:48 PM

Chief Meteorologist McCall Vrydaghs explains the process of melting snow and how it can increase the threat for flooding.

During the winter it’s no surprise to see snow, but sometimes it’s not just the plowing and shoveling that can cause headaches.

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Temperatures swings during the winter this can be problematic, especially when there’s a significant snow pack on the ground, Storm Center 7 Chief Meteorologist McCall Vrydaghs said.

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“A quick rise in temperatures could lead to the rapid melting of snow followed by a very soggy ground. Part of the problem is the ground also may be frozen not too far below the surface, leaving minimal real-estate for the ground to absorb the water. Add to that a rain event and the threat for flooding will increase quickly,” she said.

Flooding is not just limited to low lying areas, but also to creeks, stream and rivers.

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It may take a few days, but runoff from the rain and melting snow will travel to these tributaries causing water levels will rise.

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In more extreme cases, if the river was previously frozen, this warming and added rush of water could lead to ice jams, which have been known to increase the risk of river water breaching its banks.