Flood Potential Outlook
Issued by NWS Grand Forks, ND
FGUS73 KFGF 311737
National Weather Service Grand Forks ND
1237 PM CDT Fri Mar 31 2017
...Spring Snowmelt Runoff and Flooding is Well Underway Across
the Northern Red River and Devils Lake Basins...
Weather and Hydrologic Overview.
Quite mild late March temperatures and overnight lows holding above
the freezing (refreezing) point have ramped up the snowmelt runoff
across the north country...of northeast North Dakota and far
northwest Minnesota. These mild conditions should continue
throughout the weekend and into early next week, with steady runoff
conditions persisting. Here is a summary of hydrologic conditions
by area and county.
In Northwest Minnesota.
- Polk County. Late February and early March thaws had removed
most of the local snowmelt runoff from the system. However the
subsequent deep freezes had reformed river ice along the Red lake
River and Clearwater Rivers...so that this current thaw and
remaining snowmelt runoff resulted in a rise to near Action Stage
on Thursday morning, in Crookston, with a subsequent spike to near
Minor Flood stage due to ice jamming on Thursday afternoon. Ice
has since diminished and the Red Lake River is flowing freely.
- Marshall County. Similar to Polk County, substantial thawing in
late February and early March led to early snowmelt runoff and
Minor Flooding along the Snake River...with a subsequent re-freeze
of the river system. The current thaw has pushed remaining
snowmelt into the channel with flows once again at or near the
Minor Flood level. Some ice jamming was evident around mid week
but that has since dissipated.
- Kittson County. Moderate runoff began in the Two River
Watershed over the past weekend and kicked into High this week.
Flows have been well moderated through the Lake Bronson Dam and
Reservoir, with downstream flood levels into the city of Hallock
rising into the mid- range of moderate flooding around midweek and
expected top drop down near Minor Flood level early next week.
Some ice- jamming was evident through the early and midweek
period, but flow is now unhindered.
In Northeast North Dakota.
- Walsh County. Moderate to Major flooding has developed along
the three branches of the Park River throughout the week, with
their combined flows moving towards the community of Grafton and
expected to peak near a Major Flood stage of 14.5 feet early on
Saturday. Flows on the South Branch are moderated to a degree by
the Homme Dam and Reservoir, where downstream near Park River ND,
the crest level appears to be coming in just a couple inches below
the 2013 staff gage level, as noted by local observers. It has
also been noted that high flow is being sustained for a longer
period through Homme Dam, which could keep flood levels high for a
longer period downstream through Grafton as well. This morning,
flood waters now appear to be flowing freely on all river branches
and ice jamming is a minimum. There could still be significant
tree branch debris in the flow... remnants from the downburst wind
episodes the previous summer.
- Pembina County. Moderate to Major flooding has ramped up much
more quickly than expected in Pembina County. While runoff into
the Upper Pembina River in Canada is still ramping up through the
gage at Windygates MB, that runoff plus local inflows in Pembina
County have pushed he gage near Walhalla to just shy of the
Moderate Flood stage (similar to 2006 level), but well shy of 2011
or 2013 Major Flood levels. Further downstream from Leroy ND into
Neche ND, the Pembina River has pushed very near those 2011 and
2013 levels, with significant breakout and overland flow being
reported...along with ice jamming both upstream and downstream
from the Hwy 18 Bridge near Neche (between Neche and Gretna MB).
Near Neche...flood levels are expected to remain near this high
level well into next week.
Along the Mainstem Red River...
- At Olso MN and Drayton ND, the Red River is expected to persist
at a Minor Flood stage for several days.
- At Pembina ND, the Red River will see the combined flows from
all MN and ND tributaries and should rise into a Moderate Flood
stage this weekend and hold there throughout much of the coming
In the Devils Lake and Sheyenne Basins.
- Cavalier and Towner County ND. An Areal Flood Warning remains
in effect until Monday...as widespread thaw and snowmelt runoff
are expected to contribute to episodic overland flooding or
flooding in smaller ungaged streams and coulees...mainly in rural
- Ramsey and Benson County ND. There are no flood warnings
currently posted for these counties. However, widespread thaw and
runoff conditions are expected to persist throughout the weekend
and next week...so that overland flooding may develop. Larger
flows will then develop into the upper Chain of Lakes and Coulees,
which eventually feed into the Devils lake and Stump Lake system.
Large rises are expected on these lakes over the coming weeks.
- Eddy County. Both the upper James and Upper Sheyenne Rivers are
currently running largely ice-free and at bankfull or higher
levels. Reports this morning had Hwy 281 bridges near the
communities of New Rockford and Sheyenne with high water, but
otherwise flowing freely. Minor breakout flows are expected along
the Sheyenne River channel and at any low water crossings, but no
significant overland flooding is expected.