Water Resources of the United States

PROJECT ALERT NOTICE (MN ND) Snowmelt Flood on the Red River in North Dakota and Minnesota

Date: Mon, 29 Apr 2013 14:54:55 EDT

Summary: Major flooding in the Red River of the North Basin in North Dakota and Minnesota.

Flooding on the Red River of the North in North Dakota and Minnesota

The spring melt for the Red River Valley is in full progress. The unusally late melt in the upper Red River Basin has been benefical. Infiltration of the snowmelt into the ground reduced the magnitude of the anticipated snowmelt runoff peak. Currently forecast points along the Red River have crested below the 50% National Weather Service (NWS) probabilistic forecast issued in the previous week.

The current NWS forecast for the Red River at Fargo, ND (110 years of record), show a peak of around 20,000 cfs on Tuesday or Wednesday. While less than forecast, a peak of 20,000 cfs would still rank 7th highest since systematic record keeping began in 1902. Between 1902 and 2000 there were two peaks greater than 20,000 cfs. From 2001-2012 there have been four peaks greater than 20,000 cfs.

USGS field personnel are making flow measurements at all gaging locations throughout the Red River basin to aid the NWS in flood forecasting and the Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) in flood control reservoir operations. To date, more than 100 discharge measurements have been made in this flood event

Three rapid deployment gages (RDG) have been installed in the Red River basin.

RDG One is located in an ungaged tributary in the upper Red River basin upstream of Wahpeton, North Dakota; http://waterdata.usgs.gov/mn/nwis/uv/?site_no=05051350&PARAmeter_cd=00065,00060

RDG Two is located on the upper Sheyenne River in North Dakota,and was installed to aid in reservoir operations downstream at Baldhill Dam;

RDG Three is deployed on the Red River in Grand Forks with a water-surface velocity radar attached in an experimental effort to calculate real-time discharge values during open water periods. The ice has moved out of the channel so the experimental velocity radars are operating and measuring the surface velocity of the Red River. The surface velocity data are being processed and analyzed and compared to current more traditional discharge data collection methods. If the experimantal effort is successful, an accurate discharge could be calculated in this low-gradient river allowing for more precise and timely flow data to be delivered to flood forecasters and flood fighting agencies such as the NWS and USACE.

Communication with other agencies has been carried out, through conference calls, emails and NWS Chat.

Sub-Region: Midwest; Region: Central United States

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