Set for Possible Major Spring Floods on Red River, Devils Lake
businesses and community officials along the Red River in North
Dakota and Minnesota are on the verge of having their patience
and determination tested again. For the second year in a row, weather
conditions are setting the stage for another round of major spring
flooding throughout the area.
A historically high Devils Lake also
poses significant flooding problems for northeastern North Dakota.
early fall freeze and snow pack approaching record levels pose
a possibility of very significant flooding this spring all along
the Red River Valley,” said Lynn Maximuk, director of the
National Weather Service’s central region. “We urge
Red River Valley residents to begin preparing now for major flooding.”
thaw in the Red River Valley often equates to spring floods because
the flat terrain slows the drainage of runoff water. Records for
stage levels and flow volume in several places along the Red River
and its tributaries were set in 2009. Current conditions in the
Red River Valley indicate those levels we could be approached again
in 2010. Although conditions could change by the late March to
early April thaw, major flooding is a good possibility.
One flood potential
indicator is that above normal precipitation from last fall has extended through
the current winter season. Through January, precipitation has been 150-300
percent above normal across the entire Red River Basin. Fargo set a record
for precipitation in the December-January period with water equivalent of 3.42
inches. That snow and ice remains in the basin causing the snow water content
to be very high for this time of year.
Another factor exacerbating the flood threat is the frozen and
saturated soil throughout eastern North Dakota and northwest. Frozen
ground and/or saturated soil cause the majority of the snow melt
to runoff, swelling streams and rivers and increasing the chance
of flooding. Other factors that will influence the severity
of flooding include: the amount of additional snowfall; timing
of the snow melt; the rate and speed of melting snow and any rain
that falls during snow melt.
Current long-range National Weather Service
forecasts indicate about a 96 percent chance of major flooding
in the Fargo, N.D., area and about 73 percent chance of major flooding
in the Grand Forks area. They also indicate low probabilities of
river levels reaching those experienced during record floods of
1997 and 2009.
this month, National Weather Service forecasters said there is
a 95 percent chance Devils Lake will reach the 2009 record level
of 1,450.7 feet, a 60 percent chance of 1,451.5 feet, a 48 percent
chance of 1,451.7 feet and a 35 percent chance of 1,452 feet. Devils
Lake has risen more than 25 feet over the past 17 years, costing
nearly $1 billion in infrastructure improvements including development
of a new water supply system and the construction of roads acting
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Related Web sites:
NOAA’s National Weather Service: www.weather.gov
National Weather Service Grand Forks: http://www.weather.gov/fgf