Breakdown: Why snow melt can cause flooding

Updated: Feb. 26, 2021 at 5:34 AM CST
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MEMPHIS, Tenn. (WMC) -Snow melt is a major component to the water cycle and runoff process. Typically, 13 inches of snow in the US equals about an inch of water. This number can vary from 2 inch for sleet to 15 inches for the powdery dry snow. 4 to 5 inches of wet snow can equal an inch of liquid.

When the temperatures rise and the snow melts, the water will flow toward the river or any body of water nearby. When the water from snow melt reaches rivers and drainage systems, it can sometimes flood right away, which can cause rivers to rise.

This is why we are monitoring the levels of the Mississippi River closely. It’s not just all of the snow that melted here, but also the snow and rain that falls and melts to the north and runs downstream. Many of the rivers to the north feed into the Mississippi River.

In addition, when snow melts fast it can cause landslides and debris flows. Snow melt in conjunction with a rainy pattern could help contribute to floods in March.

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