Warmer temperatures and heavy rains increasing the weekend flooding threat

It was a beautiful day in Western Wisconsin! It was the warmest day of the year so far in Eau Claire and La Crosse. However, several factor s may come together this weekend to produce flooding in parts of Western Wisconsin this weekend.

A significant snow pack still exists in the area, especially north of I-94, despite melting over the past couple weeks. Here’s a look at the April 4th’s snow depth map. Much of Western Wisconsin has a snow pack that ranges between 2 to as much as 9 inches. Underneath all this snow, the ground is frozen. The Twin Cities National Weather Service is collecting reports on whether the ground is frozen or not. There are only a few reports right now, but it’s pretty safe to say north of Eau Claire has some pretty chilly ground. That means for much of Western Wisconsin, any melting or rain, will mainly head straight for local rivers and streams.

These factors are setting the stage for a lot of run-off potential with warmer temperatures and rain in the forecast. There’s a lot of water in that snowpack, up to 2-4” of liquid trapped in the snow. That’s why this weekend is becoming a bit concerning when it comes to flooding.

Precipitation will begin Friday night beginning as rain and even a wintry mix. Some places could see some minor snow accumulation, but any accumulations will melt on Saturday. Eventually overnight any wintry mix should change to rain. Rain could be heavy at times Friday night into Saturday with some locations possibly picking up an inch or more in liquid precipitation by Saturday night. Below is a look at estimated precipitation from the National Weather Service for Friday Night into Saturday.

This could result to some rapid rises on area rivers as well as ice jams, especially, in the Chippewa River Basin. Other rivers that could see some decent rises are the Black, Buffalo, and Trempealeau Rivers. That could mean some possible flooding this weekend. The extent and severity of the flooding is still in question based on how much rain exactly falls and how warm temperatures get, but we’ll be watching it closely.

We’ll keep you posted here on weau.com along with updates on 24/7 Weather, future newscasts, and facebook and twitter.

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