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The U.S. Department of Commerce's National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), through the National Weather Service (NWS), has broad Federal responsibility to provide to the public severe storm and flood warnings and weather forecasts as well as river flow and water resource forecasts. Timely and accurate forecasts and warnings of river and weather conditions are critical to protect life and property and to help support the Nations's economic and environmental well-being.

A survey team was assembled following disastrous flooding on the Red River of the North in April of 1997 which caused $4 billion in economic damages to the affected region in this country and truly devastating damages in the towns of Grand Forks, North Dakota, and East Grand Forks, Minnesota. No deaths were directly attributable to the flood. The survey team consisted of ten members including personnel from the NWS national headquarters and western regions, the U.S. Geological Survey, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, and a consultant. The survey team conducted field interviews and data collection from May 27-30, 1997, and provided preliminary results to the media, local officials, and the U.S. Congress in briefings on July 25, 1997.

This report summarizes the findings and recommendations from the survey team's investigations and from a further analysis of the hydraulic conditions in the Grand Forks area. Although the Red River of the North floods of 1997 caused devastating impacts in economic, environmental, and human terms, the lessons learned have already led the NWS to changes that will guide us in providing improved services and benefits to the Nation.


nwssmsh.gif (2391 bytes) John J. Kelly, Jr.
Assistant Administrator for Weather Services
August 1998
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