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Michigan Flood Ready

Michigan Flood Ready

On March 17, 2014, the National Weather Service (NWS) released its Michigan Spring Flood Outlook report for the upcoming spring. This report indicates the chances of flooding will be the result of several factors that cannot be forecast with any level of certainty. With a greater than average snowpack on the ground and thicker than normal amount of ice on streams and rivers, the NWS indicated there is a 40 to 90 percent flood risk for the state of Michigan. Ordinarily, the typical flood risk for this time of year would be 5 to 20 percent.

What risk factors could cause greater flooding?

  • Ice jams on the Great Lakes which could impede the “escape” of river ice.
  • Deeper than normal snow pack.
  • Additional snowfall.
  • Quick warm-up.
  • Intense or heavy rains.
  • Rapid melting.
  • Quick breakage and release of the ice cover.
  • A combination of the above.

What factors could improve the situation?

  • Cool temperatures with sunny weather.
  • Slow gradual melt.
  • No rain or little or sporadic rains.
  • Slow erosion of the ice pack.

Where is the flood risk?

Flooding will depend on a delicate balance between time, temperature and rainfall. A slow melt and thaw will reduce the chances of flooding. For the latest flood risk location information, go to

Across the state, there is a greater than average snow pack and a deeper than normal frost and freeze level. The later in the year that the ice and snow pack remain, the greater the risk of flooding because melting will occur more suddenly and in greater amounts.

The flood risk will be minimized if the snow pack melts gradually. The risk may be greater if Michigan experiences more snowfall, heavy rains and warm temperatures that lead to rapid melting. Ice jams on the Great Lakes could also impede the “escape” of river ice. A higher risk for flooding does not mean a prediction of record flooding but indicates that some flooding is likely. At this time, accurate forecasting for significant flooding is difficult.

When did Michigan last experience widespread flooding?
Last year, President Barack Obama declared a major disaster for 16 counties across Michigan's Upper and Lower Peninsulas due to the severe flood damage that occurred from April 16 to May 14. The affected counties were Allegan, Barry, Baraga, Gogebic, Houghton, Ionia, Kent, Keweenaw, Marquette, Midland, Muskegon, Newaygo, Ontonagon, Osceola, Ottawa and Saginaw.

This presidential declaration provided public assistance grants for affected state and local governments to rebuild roads, bridges and other public facilities and infrastructure. Eligible private non-profits were also eligible to apply.

What should I do?
Emergency preparedness is the starting point for all Michiganders. Regardless of the potential threat or hazard, everyone must be prepared for any emergency by making a plan and creating an emergency preparedness kit. An emergency or disaster can happen at any time, to anyone. By planning ahead and creating a kit, you and your family will be better prepared for tomorrow. Check out the following flooding safety awareness topics: