Flood Potential Outlook
Issued by NWS Cleveland, OH

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WINTER/SPRING FLOOD POTENTIAL OUTLOOK
NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE CLEVELAND OH
1111 AM EST THU MAR 5 2015


...WINTER/SPRING FLOOD OUTLOOK NUMBER 5...

...THE FLOOD THREAT IS EXPECTED TO BE NEAR TO ABOVE NORMAL ACROSS
NORTHWEST PENNSYLVANIA AND NORTHERN OHIO THROUGH MID MARCH...

AN ABOVE NORMAL POTENTIAL FOR FLOODING MEANS WIDESPREAD FLOODING
COULD OCCUR WITH WATER LEVELS POSSIBLY HAVING MODERATE OR MAJOR
IMPACTS. A NORMAL FLOOD POTENTIAL MEANS OCCASIONAL FLOODING COULD
OCCUR WITH WATER LEVELS HAVING MINOR IMPACTS. THIS IS THE FIFTH
ISSUANCE OF THE WINTER AND SPRING FLOOD OUTLOOK ISSUED BY THE
NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE IN CLEVELAND. FLOOD OUTLOOKS ARE ISSUED
BIWEEKLY DURING THE WINTER AND EARLY SPRING TO SUMMARIZE CURRENT
CONDITIONS AND ASSESS THE POTENTIAL FOR FLOODING ACROSS NORTHERN
OHIO AND NORTHWEST PENNSYLVANIA.

FACTORS TO CONSIDER WHEN ASSESSING FLOOD POTENTIAL THIS TIME OF
YEAR ARE CURRENT RIVER AND RESERVOIR LEVELS...SNOW PACK DEPTH AND
WATER CONTENT...ICE COVERAGE ON AREA RIVERS AND THE LAKE...SOIL
MOISTURE...AND WIDESPREAD HEAVY RAINFALL POTENTIAL.

...OVERVIEW...
A STRETCH OF RECORD TO NEAR RECORD COLD TEMPERATURES ACROSS THE
REGION HAS SUPPORTED A SIGNIFICANT SNOW PACK ACROSS TWO-THIRDS OF
THE AREA. THE WEATHER PATTERN IS SUGGESTING ONGOING BELOW NORMAL
TEMPERATURES...HOWEVER AS WE PROGRESS INTO MARCH THE CHANCES FOR A
THAW ARE RISING. ANY QUICK TURN AROUND IN
TEMPERATURES...ESPECIALLY IF ACCOMPANIED BY RAINFALL...INCREASES
THE RISK OF SNOWPACK RELEASE AND FLOODING. THE RISK OF ICE JAM
FLOODING IS ALSO HIGH AS MOST RIVERS HAVE SEEN SIGNIFICANT GROWTH
OF ICE IN THE LAST MONTH. THE FACTORS THAT COUNTER THESE RISKS ARE
THE LOW STREAMFLOWS AND ABUNDANT FLOOD STORAGE AVAILABILITY IN
RESERVOIRS. THEREFORE THE FLOOD RISKS IS NORMAL TO ABOVE NORMAL
FOR THE AREA.

...PRECIPITATION AND TEMPERATURE FORECASTS...
THE SHORT TERM FORECASTS SUGGEST A WEAK WARM-UP WHICH WILL PUSH
TEMPERATURES ABOVE FREEZING. THIS WILL HELP GRADUALLY REDUCE THE
AREA SNOWPACK YET NOT DRASTICALLY REDUCE THE OVERALL WATER STORAGE.
IN THE LONG TERM OUTLOOK FOR THE MONTH THE TEMPERATURES AND
PRECIPITATION ARE EXPECTED TO REMAIN BELOW NORMAL. THE OUTLOOKS
FOR THE REST OF THE SPRING SEASON SUGGEST NORMAL TEMPERATURE AND
PRECIPITATION CHANCES.

...SNOW COVER...
AT THE TIME OF THIS ISSUANCE THE SNOWPACK WAS HEAVIEST ACROSS THE
SNOWBELT WHERE THE AVERAGE DEPTH WAS AROUND TWO FEET. ELSEWHERE
THE SNOWPACK HAS COMPACTED TO EIGHT INCHES OR LESS. AREAS SOUTH
OF THE ROUTE 30 CORRIDOR HAVE NO NOTABLE SNOWPACK. THE WATER
EQUIVALENT IN THIS REGION IS NEGLIGIBLE. FROM CLEVELAND WEST TO
TOLEDO THE SNOW WATER EQUIVALENT IS ONE TO TWO INCHES. IN THE
SNOWBELT THE WATER EQUIVALENT IS BETWEEN THREE AND FIVE INCHES. THE
SNOWPACK FOR THIS TIME OF YEAR IS RUNNING ABOVE NORMAL. THERE
WILL BE A SLOW WARM-UP WHICH WILL CONTINUE TO COMPACT THE SNOW AND
GRADUALLY REDUCE THE WATER EQUIVALENT.

...ICE COVERAGE...
ALL AREA RIVERS HAVE SOME AMOUNT OF ICE COVERAGE. THE GREAT LAKES
BASIN TRIBUTARIES ARE NOTABLY ICE COVERED AND UNABLE TO FLUSH INTO
LAKE ERIE AS IT REMAINS ICE COVERED. THE REPORTED ICE THICKNESS IS
A FOOT OR LESS ON THE NORTHERN RIVERS. NUMEROUS RIVER GAGES ARE
BEING AFFECTED BY THE COLD AND ICE CONDITIONS AND ARE REPORTING
INACCURATE STAGE READINGS. RIVER OBSERVERS SHOULD REPORT
SIGNIFICANT ICE JAMS TO THE LOCAL AUTHORITIES WHO WILL INFORM THE
NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE.

...CURRENT RIVER AND RESERVOIR LEVELS...
ALL RIVERS AND CREEKS ACROSS THE REGION ARE RUNNING BELOW NORMAL
STREAM FLOWS. THE MAJORITY OF THE LOCAL RESERVOIRS ARE RUNNING AT
OR SLIGHTLY BELOW THE IDEAL WINTER POOL LEVELS. THE AMOUNT OF
REMAINING FLOOD STORAGE REMAINS HIGH WITH ALL RESERVOIRS REPORTING
LESS THAN 5% OF USAGE AT THE TIME OF THIS ISSUANCE.

...SOIL MOISTURE...
TOP SOILS REMAIN FROZEN AND SNOW COVERED. THE SPRINGSBORO
PENNSYLVANIA SOIL TEMPERATURE READING SHOWS THE FROST DEPTH TO
SIX INCHES. WITH THE GROUND FROZEN AND THE SNOWPACK GROWING THE
POTENTIAL FOR RAPID RUNOFF AND FLOODING WILL REMAIN A THREAT IN
ANY FUTURE RAIN OR SNOW MELT EVENTS.

...LONG TERM OUTLOOKS...
THE LONG-RANGE RIVER OUTLOOKS AND THE PROBABILITY OF EXCEEDING
FLOOD STAGE OR THE CHANCES OF FLOODING RELATIVE TO NORMAL AT
SPECIFIC FORECAST POINTS DURING THE NEXT 90 DAYS IS NEAR TO ABOVE
NORMAL. THE ENSO OUTLOOK IS PREDICTING A 50-60% CHANCE OF EL NINO
DEVELOPING DURING THE NEXT COUPLE OF MONTHS BUT WITH A DECREASING
CHANCE INTO SPRING AND SUMMER. THE LONG TERM TEMPERATURE AND
PRECIPITATION OUTLOOKS SHOW NEUTRAL CONDITIONS THROUGH SPRING.

...FLOOD POTENTIAL SUMMARY AND OUTLOOK...
THE EXTENSIVE SNOWPACK AND RIVER ICE SUGGESTS AN ABOVE NORMAL RISK
FOR FLOODING. AT THIS TIME THERE ARE NO INDICATIONS OF A THAW OR
HEAVY RAIN EVENT THAT WOULD BE THE CATALYST FOR A FLOOD. THE
FLOOD CHANCES FOR THE REST OF MARCH WILL BE HEIGHTENED IF THE
SNOWPACK IS UNABLE TO GRADUALLY MELT. HOWEVER BASED ON
CLIMATOLOGY AND EXPECTED NORMAL PRECIPITATION THIS SPRING THE
OUTLOOK FOR FLOODING THE REST OF THE SPRING IS NEAR NORMAL.
CLIMATOLOGY FAVORS MARCH AND APRIL AS THE MOST FREQUENT PERIOD FOR
FLOODS.

THE NEXT WINTER/SPRING FLOOD OUTLOOK WILL BE ISSUED ON MARCH 12TH.


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