US Army Corps of Engineers measures snow in Rochester to help predict risk of flooding

Over the past week and a half, Bill Odell has gathered data from about 100 different locations across Minnesota and Wisconsin.

Posted: Mar. 13, 2019 5:34 PM

ROCHESTER, Minn. – After record snowfall this winter, there’s serious cause for concern with flooding.

The US Army Corps of Engineers is traveling across Minnesota and Wisconsin to measure the snow in order to help predict the risk of flooding.

On Wednesday, they were in Rochester with a quick stop at Eastwood Park for two men working in a field of snow.

“I've been doing this job for eight years now and this is the snowiest season I've saw with the snow surveying,” Bill Odell, a hydrologic technician with the US Army Corps of Engineers, said.

As they trudge through the snow, Odell and his colleague collect data that will be helpful to the national weather service once spring comes.

“They did forecast an increased chance of major flooding in the basin though,” Odell said.

They’re working to find the snow-water equivalent.

“If all the snow melted at one time, that's how much water would be on the ground in place of that snow,” Odell explains.

They take five measurements total, put the snow in a plastic bag, then on the scale.

Odell said once ounce of snow equals about one inch of water on the ground. As far as the totals in Rochester go.

“That just means we're gonna have a lot more potential for a lot more water here,” Odell explains. “At this particular location, we had an average snow depth of 17.1 inches and we had a snow-water equivalent average of 5.7 inches of water."

Technicians survey areas like the softball field at Eastwood Park because there's not a lot of foot traffic. That gives them a good representation of what the rest of the city will look like.

As they venture forward on their journey, they’re ready to conquer their next site as well as nature’s next season.

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