It shouldn’t come as a surprise to Moody County residents, that this spring has a high likelihood of flooding.
Predictions from the National Weather Service in Sioux Falls say several conditions are right for high water levels.
The aquifer and the soil saturation levels are at a record high, said Terry Albers, emergency management director for Moody County. The Big Sioux River still is high from last September’s heavy rains and flooding, and the snowpack is heavy in counties north of here. Albers was briefed by the National Weather Service.
“It depends on how fast the snowpack melts,” he said. In addition, the Big Sioux is open in some places and flowing, which helps move water downstream.
Charts and graphs provided by the weather service shows an extremely high soil moisture as of Jan. 21. Snow depth to the north, particularly north of Brookings, is somewhere between 12 and 18 inches, with 3 to 6 inches of water in it.
“Conditions are not looking good for spring,” Albers said.
Frost is less deep in northeastern counties where heavy snow fell early in the year but deeper in this area where the snowpack came later.
Simulation of the river during this spring shows record levels, according to the weather service, and the possibility for minor, moderate and major flooding throughout April are above normal.
Concerns that a repeat of flooding is leaving the city wondering what to do. Flandreau lost tens of thousands of dollars at its ballfields, camping area and Japanese Gardens. In addition, the nearby golf court was unable to open because of high water.
City Administrator Jeff Pederson questions whether those areas should be repaired before spring.
“Do you put that in, not knowing if you can have the same situation happen again? That’s the quandary,” he said. “If we got hit with the same set of weather conditions, the same thing could happen again.”
In Trent, where homes were surrounded by water and basements filled during last September’s flooding, after already being flooded last spring, there is little that can be done, said town board president Jonathan Damm. All but one resident has moved back into their homes.
“Unfortunately for us being so close to the river, there’s really not much you can do,” he said. “Even if you block it, it still comes up from below. All you can really do is make sure everyone is aware of it, of what’s expected, and that they’re as prepared as they can be.”