Spring flood risk low in Souris River Basin

BISMARCK – Recent snowy weather has added beneficial moisture to the Souris River Basin but flood risk remains low, according to the National Weather Service.

“All river forecast locations remain below historical risks for flooding with most being well below normal,” the NWS reported this week. “This does not suggest, though, that there will be no episodes of high water, only that any problematic high water should be relatively isolated, minor in nature and the result of heavy spring rains.”

Representatives from multiple state agencies, including the Governor’s Office, North Dakota Department of Emergency Services, North Dakota Department of Water Resources and North Dakota National Guard, began planning and collaboration efforts Thursday in anticipation of potential spring flooding after heavy snowfall and persistent cold gripped the state over the fall and winter months.

The initial meeting at the State Emergency Operations Center on Fraine Barracks in Bismarck was facilitated to enable a unified approach for flood preparedness and potential response and recovery efforts.

Other participating agencies included the North Dakota Department of Transportation, North Dakota Highway Patrol, North Dakota Department of Health and Human Services, North Dakota Department of Environmental Quality, North Dakota Department of Agriculture, North Dakota Civil Air Patrol, North Dakota Parks and Recreation Department and the National Weather Service’s offices in Bismarck and Grand Forks.

“Our state team is always most effective when using a whole-of-government approach toward disaster response. While flooding is not imminent, things like ice jams and additional precipitation could call for a quick response. We want to make sure our local communities, state agencies and federal partners have the tools they need now so everyone is better prepared,” said Gov. Doug Burgum.

In the Souris River Basin, Lake Darling, Rafferty Reservoir and Grant Devine (formerly Alameda Reservoir) are all at or below their normal winter levels. Small rivers also remain slightly below normal to near normal for this time of year, the NWS reported. Wetlands, after a dry summer and fall, tend to have slightly lower water levels than the past several years. Similarly, soil moisture levels are below normal to well below normal. Snow cover, while greater than that of a couple weeks ago, is still below normal amounts going into the spring melt.

The six- to 14-day weather outlook in the basin calls for a well above normal chance for colder than normal temperatures, with near normal precipitation. The one-month and three-month outlooks favor cooler than normal temperatures and above normal precipitation, according to the NWS.


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