Saturday, April 4, 2009

Red River Valley of the North Flood, 2009: April 4: News Added As I find It

6:15 p.m. Central
"Officials may activate floodway despite inlet ice pack"
Winnipeg Sun (April 4, 2009) (14 hours ago)

"Extraordinary situations call for extraordinary measures.

"The provincial government is taking that idea to its plan for the Red River Floodway, as floodwater surges higher and threatens about 190 homes in Winnipeg, with the crest to arrive in the city possibly within six days.

"Though the floodway is not normally used to send the Red's water around Winnipeg while ice is packed around the diversion's inlet, the government said yesterday that 'unprecedented' conditions -- including possible ice jams threatening to back up water quickly -- could prompt operators to flip its switch earlier.

" 'Operations of the floodway to natural water levels would provide a benefit within six hours by 1.4 feet,' Steve Topping of the Water Stewardship Department told reporters at the legislature. 'Further operation, if warranted, would be considered should the flood risk still be imminent.'..."

I've seen the Winnipeg floodway: it's an impressive piece of engineering. I've also seen floods in the Red River Valley of the North. They're impressive, too. I sincerely hope that Winnipeg's system can handle what's coming its way.

"Fargo waters snake north to the ice of Winnipeg"
Globe and Mail (April 4, 2009) (16 hours ago)

"North Dakota surge expected Wednesday in Manitoba capital where the Red River Floodway may be opened before ice has melted"

"WINNIPEG -- When the irresistible force of a record Red River crest in the south meets the immovable object of unprecedented ice jams in the north, southern Manitoba is bound to get wet.

"That's just the scenario unfolding along the banks of the Red this spring, as a bulge of water from the Fargo, N.D., flood snakes toward stubborn dams of ice north of Winnipeg.

"The collision is so worrisome that provincial officials said yesterday that they were considering the unusual step of opening the Red River Floodway before river ice has fully melted...."

I get the uncomfortable feeling that Winnipeg's floodway was designed around the idea that the Red River of the North would have the decency to delay floodwaters until the ice had melted around Winnipeg.

That's not the way it works, generally. Since the Red River of the North flows north, the south end of its watershed generally warms up first: sending waters into the Red. A flood crest can get refreshed as it moves north.
6:10 p.m. Central
"Hundreds of Manitobans work to fill sandbags to deal with floodwaters"
The Canadian Press (April 4, 2009) (21 minutes ago)

"...Flood forecasters predict the Red River will crest in Winnipeg by Thursday.

"To date, more than 500,000 sandbags have been produced...."

Let's hope they make - and place - enough, in time.
6:05 p.m. Central
"National Guard is welcome sight in ND flood fight"
The Associated Press (April 4, 2009) (5 hours ago)

"FARGO, N.D. (AP) — Staff Sgt. Matthew Mitzel has patrolled the Tigris and Euphrates rivers in Iraq, and now he's patrolled the Red River in Fargo.

" 'I'll take Fargo any day,' said Mitzel, a North Dakota National Guard member and veteran of two tours in Iraq now leading a quick-response rescue team in flood-soaked Fargo...."

"...The North Dakota guard deployed a total of about 2,000 soldiers to Fargo and surrounding areas to help with the flood fight. Minnesota sent 650 of its National Guard members to the Moorhead area, and several other Upper Midwest states pitched in with 400 more...."

It's a pretty good writeup on how the National Guard helped out in Fargo-Moorhead.
4:55 p.m. Central
"Govs call for Red River flood control"
UPI (April 3, 2009) (18 hours ago)

"FARGO, N.D., April 3 (UPI) -- The governors of Minnesota and North Dakota Friday called for long-term flood control for the Red River as forecasters predicted a new record crest this month.

"John Hoeven of North Dakota and Tim Pawlenty of Minnesota held a joint news conference in Fargo, N.D., to call for regional cooperation and federal aid, Minnesota Public Radio reported...."

Winnipeg, Manitoba, had some big flood diversion channels dug, decades back. I haven't heard what that's done to towns downstream of the city, but it's helped Winnipeg. I ran into a discussion a few days ago (can't find it now - but it's likely to be in one of the news items I've linked to) - where a diversion around Fargo was discussed. The local fellow said, essentially, that it might help Fargo, but might have a bad effect on people living downstream.

We'll see what comes of this governor-level talk. Whatever is done: I hope that someone with engineering skills and a good computer is involved.
Flood-related posts: List of posts about this flood:

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