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Published March 08, 2013, 09:18 PM

Army Corps of Engineers studies water content in the snow

Fargo, ND (WDAY TV) -- As spring creeps closer, many are trying to get a clear picture of what flood season will look like.

By: Becky Parker, WDAY

Fargo, ND (WDAY TV) -- As spring creeps closer, many are trying to get a clear picture of what flood season will look like.

Today, the Army Corps of Engineers was in town surveying the water content in the snow.

For 20 years, Paul Johnson has trudged through the snow in the name of research.

He and Bill Odell, with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, are finding out how much water is in the snow.

Johnson: "I'm lucky enough to be able to go out on the snow surveys when we do have a large enough amount of snow. Last year, it was so scarce that we didn't even do it."

But this year is a different story.

Snowstorms have left a thick snowpack across much of Minnesota, so Johnson and Odell traveled around the state all week, using a snow tube to pull samples.

They weigh their snowy specimen, do some mathematical calculations, and the water content is revealed.

What they found in this particular spot was an average of 6 inches of snow, with 1.4 inches snow-water equivalent. They say that's one of the lower measurement's they've had so far.

Odell: "Up in International Falls is getting up in the 5-6 inches of water equivalent. Down here, we've been in more of a 2-3."

The information is passed on to the National Weather Service, which uses it to get a more accurate forecast for spring flooding.

Johnson: "It's not necessarily the inches of snow, the water equivalent is the main concern."

The Corps will monitor the region for future snow storms and conduct more surveys if needed.

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