"Red River Valley of the North Flood, 2009: March 27: News Added As I find It"
(March 27, 2009)
11:55 p.m. Central
"RED RIVER AT FARGO"
NWS Hydrologic Prediction Serive (March 26, 2009) (40 minutes ago)
751 PM CDT Thu Mar 26 2009
"Latest observed value: 39.92 ft at 11:15 PM CDT 26-Mar-2009. Flood stage is at 18.0 ft ..."
And still rising. The Red is within inches of the record flood.
We Really Don't Know All That Much About Red River Valley ClimateNorth Dakota's first railroad reached Fargo, North Dakota, in 1872. That's a bit shy of 140 years ago.
It's a long time, in one way: longer than anyone can expect to live.
It's not all that long, in another. Glacial Lake Agassiz was around 10,000 years ago, and didn't start draining northward until roughly 8,000 years back. We've been keeping records of conditions on the old lake bed for a bit shy of 2% of the time it's been there.
It's just possible that we don't know everything there is to know about the place.
It's very likely that we'll learn a great deal during the next week.
I'll End This Post NowMore, as I find it, tomorrow.
11:10 p.m. Central
"Fargo, Moorhead: Little aid after '97 flood"
Minneapolis Star Tribune (March 26, 2009) (1 hour ago)
"Cities worst hit in 1997 got help shoring up defenses, but others didn't.
"Nearly a half-billion dollars has been spent on flood protection in the Red River Valley since the devastating flood of 1997, but very little of it has been invested in the cities that now need it most -- Fargo, N.D., and Moorhead, Minn...."
"...In comparison, Walaker said Fargo and Moorhead, which have been working with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers on a long-term plan for permanent protection, have spent more than $10 million over the past decade to install new pump stations and remove more than 150 homes from the most flood-prone neighborhoods.
"That work already has made this spring's flood fight a bit easier, he said.
" 'We would not be surviving right now if we hadn't done that,' Walaker said Thursday."
Nobody in this world has infinite resources: and other communities were hit very hard in 1997. I'm glad that the Twin Cities paper mentioned that.
11:00 p.m. Central
"Flooding forces mandatory evacuations in Fargo"
Malaysia Star (March 26, 2009) (1 hour ago)
"FARGO, North Dakota (AP): Officials in Fargo ordered the mandatory evacuation of one neighborhood and a nursing home late Thursday after authorities found cracks in an earthen levee built around the area...."
It's the AP story we read earlier: being reported in Malaysia. First national news, now international. As I wrote before, this isn't the sort of publicity that anybody reasonably wants.
10:45 p.m. Central
NWS Hydrologic Information Center (March 26, 2009) (3 1/2 hours ago)
751 PM CDT Thu Mar 26 2009
"NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE EASTERN NORTH DAKOTA/GRAND FORKS ND
"751 PM CDT THU MAR 26 2009"
"...CONDITIONS ON THE RED RIVER AT FARGO HAVE GROWN INCREASINGLY DANGEROUS OVER THE PAST 24 HOURS. THE RIVER IS CURRENTLY APPROACHING RECORD LEVELS AND SHOWING NO SIGN OF SLOWING AT THIS POINT...."
"...THE RELATIVE UNCERTAINTY IN FORECAST MODELS HAS INCREASED SIGNIFICANTLY. RECORD FLOWS UPSTREAM OF FARGO HAVE PRODUCED UNPRECEDENTED CONDITIONS ON THE RED RIVER. GIVEN THESE FACTORS...THE RIVER IS EXPECTED TO BEHAVE IN WAYS NEVER PREVIOUSLY OBSERVED. THE CREST FORECAST AT FARGO IS NOW EXPECTED TO BE BETWEEN 41 AND 42 FEET BY SATURDAY...BUT COULD POTENTIALLY BE AS HIGH AS 43 FEET... AND CONTINUE FOR 3 TO 7 DAYS."
"AT 715 PM CDT...THE RIVER STAGE AT FARGO IS 39.61 FEET. THIS LEVEL
EXCEEDS THE MAXIMUM HEIGHT OBSERVED IN THE 1997 FLOOD...WHICH WAS
39.57 FEET...." [emphasis mine]
There's more to that flood statement. This bit, translated into more ordinary language might read:
"It's gotten a lot more dangerous around Fargo in the last 24 hours. The river is getting close to record levels, and steadily rising.
"...Models used to forecast the river's behavior are much less certain now. We've never see this much water moving through the river system. All things considered, the river is going to act in ways we haven't seen, since records were kept around here. We think, maybe, the crest will be around 41 or 42 feet by Saturday. But, who knows: it might be 43 feet. And stay there for a week."
"At 7:15 p.m., Central Daylight Time, the river at Fargo was 39.61 feet. That's higher than the 1997 flood: which got up to 39.57 feet...."
Blasting Ice Near Bismark, North Dakota"Ice Jam Detonated at North Dakota Capital, Residents Evacuate"
Environment News Service (March 26, 2009) (12 hours ago)
"BISMARCK, North Dakota, March 26, 2009 (ENS) - An Idaho engineering company Wednesday detonated charges at strategic locations in an ice jam south of North Dakota's capital city of Bismarck in an attempt to dislodge the obstruction in the Missouri River. The jam formed sometime between Sunday night and Monday morning after fragments of ice and debris were flushed out of the Heart River into the Missouri, lodging on a sand bar and backing water into adjacent communities...."
Bismarck's just shy of 200 miles west of Fargo, North Dakota. I think it's a good idea to remember that, as important as Fargo is to the area, There are other places with weather-related issues around there, too.
This hasn't been a boring Spring.
"Fargo Racing to Protect Against Rising River "
The New York Times (March 26, 2009) (10 hours ago)
"FARGO, N.D. — For some residents in the neighborhoods closest to the fast-rising Red River here, the last-minute announcement by anxious city officials that they would build a second set of dikes to protect the heart of this state’s most populous city was anything but soothing. ..."
Soothing, schmoothing: There are sandbags to fill up there, and quite a few Fargoans, North Dakotans, and Minnesotans are doing that right now. I feel sorry for people whose homes are on the 'wrong' side of the dikes, but physics, hydrology, and time don't allow all that many options right now. And, not to sound too hard-hearted, the flood-prone regions are pretty well mapped and marked.
But, that sort of thing is what makes "news."
Kudos to The New York Times for including this:
"...'These are brutal choices,' said Dave Piepkorn, the commissioner. With a pained look, he told Ms. Krupich that he hoped the city's first line of defense would hold, but that she should be prepared to get out fast. Park your cars elsewhere, Mr. Piepkorn said. Plug your toilets.
" 'You know these are people's houses we're talking about, and it just gets to you,' he said later, shaking his head. 'But we also have to be responsible for the city as a whole.'..."
It's nice to 'get your name in the paper' - particularly when it's national news. But I think most people would prefer anonymity to this sort of fame.
"Cracks in levee forces evacuations in Fargo, ND"
The Associated Press (March 26, 2009)
"By NATE JENKINS and DAVE KOLPACK – 16 minutes ago
FARGO, N.D. (AP) — Officials in North Dakota have ordered a mandatory evacuation of one Fargo neighborhood and a nursing home after authorities found cracks in an earthen levee built around the area...."
9:34 p.m. Central
On Weather Channel: Red River Valley of the north at 42 feet. Rising.
"Ambulance convoy leaves Twin Cities for Fargo-Moorhead"
KARE (March 26, 2009)
"A convoy of ambulances left the Twin Cities for Moorhead Thursday morning to help if flooding forces the evacuation of patients from medical facilities.
"Eight rigs manned by 15 paramedics and support staff will be on duty for between 24 and 72 hours as the Red River crests. They are from Hennepin County Medical Center, Allina, North Memorial, Health East, Woodbury, St. Paul Fire, and Airport Fire Rescue...."
List of posts about this flood: