December 1, 2010 at 6:00 pm in INFORUM
When snow comes early, as it has this year, residents of the Red River Valley begin to worry about the effect of November snowfall on spring flooding.
Tags: Editorial, fall snow, Flood, Opinion, red river valley, weather 8 Comments »
We live in a geographic watershed, we have near record river and ground water levels for this time of year, and we’re in a wet cycle. Well it may be too early for the experts to stick their necks out and put their naames on it, but everyone with a lick of common sense knows it is “likely” and contemplating this year’s defense plan.
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Today, December 2nd, the Red River in Fargo is sitting at 16 and 1/2 feet. This level is only 1 & 1/2 feet under flood stage. Normally, the Red should be sitting at around 5 to 7 feet, as it has been before the wet cycle.
I mean this is really scary folks…
1 & 1/2 feet is not much wiggle room for us to work with before the spring melt. Who knows how much more snow or spring rains will come before the melt.
Fargo has topped all the dikes off at 43 feet now; anything over that and Fargo goes under, and I mean all of Fargo.
NOW is the time to start worrying and planning for an exit route and places to stay for a long time. All of Fargo’s infrastructure will be gone, including water, electricity, and sewer.
Just look back at New Orleans, and don’t think it can’t happen here.
No one believed Noah either.
Hot debate. What do you think? 16 15
Lot’s of factors figure into spring flooding.
Ground saturated now, that’s bad.
Colder than normal temps freezing things solid faster than normal, that’s bad.
Snowfall, that’s bad.
But weather is so variable there’s no guarantee, the 200 lb gorilla is a big area rain right at the peak of the thaw, that can turn almost any spring into a major flood.
I would hope that the Corp would abandon their practice of only letting a few feet off the top of Lake Traverse and Baldhill dam go as the maximum drawdown before the spring.
Lots of talk of things like waffle plans, dry dams and such yet the amount of storage presently in the basin is not used for flood control.
The river being high now means as spring approaches they can let significant flows go without some of their normal fears of icedaming and such, let’s hope they take advantage of it. Unfortunately, responding to changes in situations is not a strong point of the very beauracratic Corp of Engineers.
Note what they did on the Missouri. Despite record low levels for years, the Corp delayed changing their management for those years while they studied, and studied and studied. Finally, at the point of the coldest weather of the year in the deep of winter, they shut off the flow and froze the Missouri River with the thickest ice in many, many years.
This ice produced a massive ice dam (who could possibly have thought of that) which then proceeded to flood Bismarck. At that point you’d think they’d be fast to act, but you’d be wrong. Instead of running in to get rid of the blockage they again wanted to study it and wait because they were concerned that explosives would kill fish, evidently they thought sturgeons like to play in ice jams.
The point of all this is there seems to be a rush to put lots more lakes and property under the control of the Corp of Engineers. Local control would be much better in many ways, but whatever is built must be built to be letting water go without human decisions, because the human thing to do is to try and hold it and hold it and then when the big one comes, it really comes. You have to let the River flood to prevent the big floods. Because it all comes back to we cannot accurately predict the weather.
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we need to be added to the endangered species list
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I have noticed a correlation between articles stating it is too early to predict a flood and then having a major flood the following spring.
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LOL – good call Mike!
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I’m still shocked that more wasn’t done after ’97. Everyone I’ve talked to that lived here in the decade after ’97 said Fargo didn’t do as much as GF because Fargo didn’t get the federal dollars. Waiting for it all to go under so the feds will pay for the protection. Funny because there’s such a base of people here against receiving federal dollars for our own state!
Even more shocking to me is that even after ’97 people built houses on flood plain out of town and then refused to fund any sort of flood assessment or plan to boot.
Fargo lucked out so far but they might have pushed the luck too far. I hope disaster doesn’t strike this spring but if it does it no one can say we didn’t have over a decade of warning. The feds will have to bail us out.
It’s so reactionary. We know disaster is coming, so we’ll just spend more money overall by shutting down the town for days on end and crossing out fingers with millions of sandbags and then purchasing the flood protection we should have purchased in the first place anyway.
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I remember years ago in high school after ’97 but before the problems of recent years ranting about how silly it was that Fargo was just idly waiting for the next disaster. Why are people not shocked about this!
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