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NCRFC Spring Hydrologic Outlook

Check out our new ArcGIS Storymap for the NCRFC Spring Hydrologic Outlook to find our traditional text product along with informative images and reference information.

Please Note...Information about current river forecasts can be found by clicking on a river forecast point on the NCRFC Home Page. This will take you to the Advanced Hydrologic Prediction Service (AHPS) Home Page. From there you can link to a Weather Forecast Office Home Page where you can find more detailed statements and warnings about current river conditions. 


A quantified risk of flooding with respect to climatology is available through web graphics and tables at NWS Long_Range Flood Risk, along with links to Weather Forecast Office Home Pages.

Spring Flood and Water Resources Outlooks -

The 2022 Probabilistic Hydrologic Outlooks - Spring Flood and Water Resources Outlooks public issuance dates will be:

Thursday, February 10, 2022

Thursday, February 24, 2022

Thursday, March 10, 2022

The National Hydrologic Assessment/Spring Flood Outlook release and media briefing is anticipated to be held on Thursday, March 17, 2022.



Overall, the risk remains the same as discussed in the previous flood outlooks: The risk remains average for the majority of the NCRFC service area, with the exception of the Red River Basin in the Hudson Bay Drainage.

There are 97 forecast points in the NCRFC area that indicate a 50% or greater chance for flooding through mid-May, with only 27 of those indicating a 50% or greater chance for moderate or major flooding. The majority of any flooding is expected to be minor, but some areas could reach moderate or even major flood levels, especially in the Red River Valley.

Since the last outlook in mid-February, the region has seen a couple of significant storm systems move through. One system around Feb 20-22 brought a round of snow from southern ND across parts of northern MN and into the Upper Peninsula of Michigan, adding additional snow depth and water content to the landscape. Farther south, the second part of that storm complex brought very warm temperatures and some significant rains from Iowa and Missouri, up through Illinois, southern Wisconsin, northern Indiana, and much of Michigan. The warm weather caused rapid snowmelt in those areas, and the rainfall only added to the runoff. Some flooding was the result, reaching from Missouri and Illinois, up through Lower Michigan. As river levels rose due to the runoff, ice broke up and in some cases resulted in ice jamming. A few jams caused some significant flooding in spots. Elevated river levels persisted through the end of February as a result of all of this precipitation.

March came in like a lamb, with minimal precipitation and somewhat mild temperatures persisting through the 3rd. But then another large storm system moved through the region from the 4th through 6th. This system brought warm temperatures and rain all the way up into Minnesota and Wisconsin, with some heavy amounts of 1 to 2 inches. Another round of rapid river rises and some ice jamming was seen, but farther north than the last one. Flooding affected parts of Iowa, Minnesota, and Wisconsin, with the additional rains keeping water levels high farther south, where they were just coming down after the prior storm.



The deepest snows are still found from North Dakota, across northern Minnesota and Wisconsin, and the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. Depth was highest closer to the Canadian border region, where 15 to 20 inches are on the ground. Some spots are even higher. Around Lake Superior, the typical Snow Belt areas have more than 2 feet of snow still on the ground.

Snow cover was very limited south of a line from Aberdeen, SD, to Mankato and Rochester, MN, over toward Green Bay, WI, to near Saginaw, MI. There are patches of snow south of that line, but many areas are snow-free.

Water equivalent in that snow was highest across those northern areas, where a general 4 to 7 inches were seen on the landscape. Snow water content tapers off quickly as you go south.

Frost depths are similar to what was seen two weeks ago. Grand Forks, ND reported a frost depth of 35 inches on Monday. Aberdeen, SD was at 36 inches, and Minot was at 28 inches. Depths of 18 to 30 inches were common across much of Minnesota and Wisconsin. But frost depth really tapers off quickly as you go south. Frost is out of the ground already south of a line from Omaha, to Des Moines, to around Detroit.

Why is frost depth important? Frozen ground acts as a barrier, like concrete, so that when the snow melts, it can’t soak into the ground, and has to run off directly into creeks and rivers. If there is less frost, the ground will thaw faster, allowing for more of that melt water to soak in. For areas with the deeper frost, there is potential for more rapid melting. Rapid melting on frozen ground can lead to enhanced runoff directly into rivers, increasing the risk of flooding. This is especially true the later we go into spring, as the potential for rapid warm-ups and thunderstorm rains increases quickly as we near April.

The latest outlook for the rest of March suggests temperatures cooler than normal, so that snow could linger over the northern areas. This could lead to a higher chance for flooding; The NCRFC will watch for this possibility.

Your North Central River Forecast Center will continue to monitor water and weather conditions, and forecasts will be issued as necessary.


Climate Summary ... Snow condition images will be updated with Outlook Issuance
MRCC Climate Watch
High Plains RCC
USGS Water Dashboard
USGS Water Dashboard
US Drought Monitor
US Drought Monitor


Current Snow and Soil Conditions

NCRFC Frost Depth

NOHRSC Snow Depth

NCRFC Simulated SWE

Climate Outlooks

CPC 6 to 10 Day Outlook

CPC 30 day Outlook

CPC 90 Day Outlook