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March Mania

Severe flooding in winter; it's possible

A number of news stories recently have contained one sentence to the effect of, "severe flooding in our area usually happens in spring." This statement is unequivocally factual. However, this should not be taken to mean that severe flooding cannot happen in other seasons, including fall, or even winter. Flooding is caused by there being too more water flowing into and through the river channel at a rate higher than is able to be moved downstream. Flooding of a severe nature in our region is most likely when it rains while a winter's worth of heavy snow melts while the ground is still frozen. Summer floods are the result of repeated heavy thunderstorms.

However, a serious flood, even a record flood, could happen in the fall or even in winter. Extraordinary weather is happening all the time around the world. With weather, the fact that a thing usually does not happen a certain way in our experience should not be taken as proof that it cannot happen.

John Wheeler

John was born in Baton Rouge, LA, and grew up near Birmingham, Alabama. As a teenager, his family moved to Madison, Wisconsin, and later to a small town in northeast Iowa. John traces his early interest in weather to the difference in climate between Alabama and Wisconsin. He is a graduate of Iowa State University with a degree in meteorology. Like any meteorologist, John is intrigued by extremes of weather, especially arctic air outbreaks and winter storms.  John has been known to say he prefers his summers to be hot but in winter, he prefers the cold.  When away from work, John enjoys long-distance running and reading.  John has been a meteorologist at WDAY since May of 1985.

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