Homeland Security Watch

News and analysis of critical issues in homeland security

March 25, 2009

Red River Valley, at least it’s still frozen

Filed under: General Homeland Security — by Philip J. Palin on March 25, 2009
NWS flooding forecast for lower 48

NWS flooding forecast for lower 48

This morning in Grand Forks, ND, the temperature is 22 degrees.  The weather forecast is for a high of 24 degrees and the accumulation of two to four inches of new snow.

The below freezing temperature is good news. This will delay the snow melt. The additional snow pack means even more flooding eventually. 

The really bad news for Grand Forks and the region is the ten-day forecast that inches above freezing temperatures next week. Farther south, balmy Fargo, ND is expected to break into serious melting temperatures – 35 to 38 degrees - by the weekend.  This will send snowmelt into the north-flowing Red River where natural dams of ice contribute to the flooding.

The National Hydrologic Assessment, released last week, predicted, “Major flooding is expected along the entire Red River of the North, with major to near record flooding expected at Fargo, ND and major flooding in the Grand Forks area. With flood severity in the basin contingent upon the timing and rate of snow melt, tributaries such as the Sheyenne River and Wild Rice River in North Dakota are expected to have major to near record flooding.”

Above is today’s 48 hour flood forecast for the Continental United States.  The purple squares represent 25 river gauges showing major flooding.

UPDATE: In Wednesday afternoon reports CNN is telling - and showing – more on the implications of the forecast.  The photographs make the situation seem much more real for those enjoying warmer – and less liquid – conditions.

SECOND UPDATE: The Weather Channel has an interesting story on blasting ice jams on the Missouri River. But you do have to suffer through a commercial to see it.

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2 Comments »

Comment by William R. Cumming

March 25, 2009 @ 8:56 am

President declared disaster for much of RED RIVER VALLEY in North Dakota.
The spring breakup is always tricky when combined with snowmelt or rain. Really the trickiest for the flood forecasters.
The federal funding for river/stream gauge efforts was almost ended completely under last administration. Hope that changes. Also coastal gages are also underfunded. Amazing that no one understands the importance of these programs. NFIP mapping largely based on these programs, not meterology.

Thanks for the graphic!

Interestingly world-wide and domestically drought is huge issue but this shows that flooding can be big problem even during long term drought.

Comment by William R. Cumming

March 26, 2009 @ 10:09 am

I guess I should have mentioned that a mandatory evacuation order for appropriate areas should have been issued NLT Wednesday noon.

We look like a repeat of the 1997 tragedy.

By the way how many folks are left in the formerly Dakota Territory? How many oil pumps? How many buffalo?

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