Water Resources of the United States

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

Date: Thu, 02 May 2013 14:53:00 EDT

Summary: 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 has passed in the southern Red River Valley around Fargo, ND. The beneficial melt that occurred around and upstream of Fargo, resulted in a peak of 33.30 ft on May 1. The preliminary peak discharge of 16,300 cfs at Fargo, has an exceedance probabilty of between .10 to .04. The Fargo crest was considerably lower than originally forecast. This lower crest value is attributable to the complicated hydraulic relation found in a low-gradient system like the Red River, whereby the 2013 volumetric flow rate of water is being passed at a lower stage than than a comparable volumetric flow rate of water in 2009. The USGS streamflow measurements were able to document this effect.

In areas of the late season snowpack that did not experience the favorable melt seen around Fargo, exceedance probabilties similar to Fargo were noted. The Park River at Grafton, ND (110 miles north of Fargo) peaked as result of the rapid warm-up experienced on the weekend of April 27 -28. The preliminary discharge of 6,000 cfs (exceedance probability of .10) ranks 4th highest discharge recorded at Grafton in 80 years of record.

USGS field personnel continue to make 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. The major field effort for this flood will end this week. However additional flood related discharge measurements will continue to be made next week since the peak on the Red River will not pass into Canada until around Wenesday May 8.

The rapid deployment gage (RDG) deployed on the Red River in Grand Forks in an experimental effort to calculate real-time discharge values using surface velocities is still in place. The surface velocity data are being processed and analyzed and compared to current more traditional discharge data collection methods. If the experimental 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.

2013 Flood Information in North Dakota

Sub-Region: Midwest; Region: Central United States

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