Snow melt could bring flooding to Walla Walla Valley

The largest snowfall in the Valley in several years is heading for a stream near you.

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WALLA WALLA — The big freeze is going to give way to a big thaw this week.

After nearly a week of below-freezing temperatures followed by snow, warmer, wetter and windier weather is in the forecast.

A warm front moving across the region will drive highs into the 40s and lower 50s, as well as bring rain and gusty winds. The rain will begin moving in tonight and continue through the rest of the week.

The snow melt combined with the rain will raise water levels in creeks, streams and rives and could bring flooding in some areas later this week, according to the weather service.

Since the start of the month temperatures have averaged nearly 17 degrees below normal with the lowest low hitting 7 degrees on Feb. 6 as measured at Walla Walla Regional Airport.

According to the Community Collaborative Rain, Hail and Snow Network, snowfall has totaled about 9 inches in the Walla Walla area since it started falling last week.

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers would begin diverting water from Mill Creek into Bennington Lake when the flow in the channel reaches 2,400 cubic feet per second, said Gina Baltrusch, public relations specialist. Gates are adjusted incrementally to divert water from Mill Creek to manage flows through town.

In 1982 it was determined that flows over 3,500 cubic feet persecond for an extended period of time has the potential to damage the Mill Creek channel components, Baltrusch said.

Andy Porter can be reached at andyporter@wwub.com or 526-8318.

Comments

thrifty 5 months, 2 weeks ago

The National Weather Service's web site at the airport shows very little moisture in the snow. If this is correct I'm wondering just where all of the moisture is going to come from to create this flooding. In addition someone is saying that our snow pack in the mountains is seriously short of what will be needed. Does the snow fall and potential rainfall amount to enough to create a flooding event?

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chicoli 5 months, 2 weeks ago

Maybe I don't understand the physics of "moisture" too well, but in my limited understanding of snow ( I'm originally from Puerto Rico) snow will be water regardless. The more snow we have the more water will be generated from such amount of snow. If the soil saturates itself from a large amount of water, the rest will run off as flooding downhill.

After preaching to the choir I feel a heck of a lot better. Just in case lets get Noah's ark ready!

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wwguy7 5 months, 2 weeks ago

I can definately tell a difference between different snows. It's not really scientific on my part, but this snow seemed much lighter than the previous large snow storm we had. When shoveling, the prior snowstorm (4-5 years ago??) was much heavier to shovel. It just seemed to have more moisture in it.

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PeggyJoy 5 months, 2 weeks ago

The Weather Channel ----4 straight days of rain for your area.

Go to the Weather Channel on your computer, and download the FREE program. Gives the temp, etc for the day up to two weeks for WW, and any other town your curious to know about.

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GeneandCassie 5 months, 2 weeks ago

This link will help explain the snow and water relationship:

http://www.theweatherprediction.com/habyhints/346/

I'd say our recent snow fall was on the 'drier' side....

Another term to look up is 'snow water equivalent...'

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Calzaretta 5 months, 2 weeks ago

What is the rain-snow equivalent?

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namvet60 5 months, 2 weeks ago

It is impossible to consistently measure snow to water ratio unless if you are taking the measurement in the exact area of the snowfall. The equivalent would vary from as close as the Walla Walla airport to downtown Milton Freewater. These so called weather men can only predict what the run-off might be. The Thursday & Friday snowfalls were very dry and the Saturday snowfall had more moisture in it but not that much. If you look at the amount of snow that has melted already there is not a lot of water sticking around for flooding conditions along with the wind to cause it to evaporate.

Now if it starts to rain then there might be flood conditions from the water runoff on the frozen terrain not stopping to be absorbed.

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schuelaw 5 months, 2 weeks ago

Can someone that was in Walla Walla in 1996 (for the Feb flood) compare the conditions now to the conditions then? I happened to be traveling through the area at the time of the actual flooding (Hwy 12 was actually closed), but was not here to see the conditions that led to the flooding.

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