U.S. climate experts have released their long-range flood forecast for spring, which begins Saturday. As CBS News Correspondent John Blackstone reports, it turns out spring could spring a nasty La Nina surprise, especially on the Northwest.
In the mountains of Idaho there's been so much snow this winter they're running out of places to put it. In the Cascades of Washington, the gauge Scott Pattee uses to measure the snow's depth seems barely long enough.
"We're setting new records that are just way above and beyond anything that we've ever seen," said Pattee, a U.S. Department of Agriculture employee.
Throughout the Northwest, the snow isn't just deep, it's heavy with moisture. That means this winter to remember may deliver a spring to fear. "We could be looking at flooding like we've never seen before," Pattee said.
On Wednesday, the National Weather Service warned of the potential for spring flooding in much of the Northwest. In Boise, there has already been high water this year. Along the Red River where there was disastrous flooding two years ago, the weather service says more trouble is almost certain. "We will have flash flooding that will take lives this year - that's almost a guarantee," said Frank Richards of the National Weather Service.
The blame, of course, goes to the weather system known as La Nina. It has given much of the country a warmer, drier winter. But the Northwest has been soaked. Even the residents of Seattle, accustomed to rainy winters, are running out of patience.
"It's awful and I'm sick of it. And tomorrow I'm buying tickets to Disney World. We're outta here," said Seattle resident Leslie Waters.
In the mountains, though, skiers are calling it a blessing. "La Nina's been very, very good to us," said one skier.
But as spring comes, those beneath the mountains may begin to feel La Nina's sting.
©1999 CBS Worldwide Corp. All rights reserved
Copyright 1999 CBS. All rights reserved.
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