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      Will the U.P. flood during our spring thaw?

      2009 has been the 10th snowiest winter on record in Negaunee Township, and more is likely on the way.

      With all that snow in the process of melting and spring rains inevitably headed our way, the possibility of flooding in the U.P. is something that meteorologists are monitoring closely. However, the potential for flooding doesn't look serious at this time; the reason for that is the ongoing drought.

      "The drought still exists across all of the southern region of Upper Michigan," says Matt Zika of the National Weather Service, "which basically extends from Iron County eastward through Delta County and then points southward."

      That means river levels are already low, and the ground is able to absorb the melted snow. There are a few other contributing factors, like the abundance of dry lake effect snow that resulted in a lot of snow for some spots, but a lack of liquid within the snowpack. Despite these good signs, flooding could become a big concern if ice jams develop on area rivers.

      "Mainly those potentials are on the Ford River in Delta County and the Ontonagon River in Ontonagon County," said Dave Pearson of the National Weather Service.

      The last time serious flooding occurred here in the U.P. was in April of 2002.

      "I believe the office here got close to 80 degrees in April, and all the snow melted in one day," Pearson recalled. "It caused extensive flooding in the western U.P. especially and parts of the central U.P. as well."

      So, while things look okay right now, a heat wave or a big storm can change the flood potential in a hurry.