Weather Forecast


In high waters: Rain ravages Dunn Co., other parts of SW North Dakota

Press Photo by April Baumgarten Garrett Doppler of Dickinson tests the waters that flood the Third Avenue West underpass on Friday, debating whether he should battle the current or go around.

Torrential rainfall in southwestern North Dakota on Friday night damaged roads, caused flooding and warranted warnings extending until early today.

Many smaller communities don’t keep complete records, so it can be hard to determine if weather is record-breaking, but National Weather Service meteorologist Patrick Ayd said based on what he saw, the weather might have set records for rainfall in a 24-hour period.

“I would say that it pretty well has to be, if not a record, very close to it, especially for this time in August, when we’re normally starting to dry out and be on the downward slide in regards to precipitation,” he said.

The rain forced emergency managers in Dunn and Stark counties to issue travel advisories Friday. Major flooding forced several roads, including the South Heart Road in south Dunn County and Third Avenue West at the Dickinson underpass, to be closed to residents.

Residents across the county also reported water over roadways, some blocking them from getting in and out of their yards.

Mike Helgeson, who has lived north of Belfield for six years, said he has never seen flooding in the area like Friday’s. He reported at least 7 inches of rain and said he had about 2 feet of water in his yard.

I’ve seen localized flooding before, but nothing like this before,” he said. “There were spots north of Belfield where the water was almost going over Highway 85.”

Ayd said the unusual weather came from a lack of flow in the atmosphere, leaving a low pressure system in place. The system hung over the area for most of the day.

“There really wasn’t any wind,” he said.

Dunn County was hit the worst, Ayd said, with areas like Manning getting as much as 10 inches of rain.

Some residents had to be rescued from their farmhouse’s roof by boat because the water was so high, Dunn County Emergency Manager Denise Brew said

“A lot of residents have issues when water comes up but this was extreme for them,” Brew said.

She said other residents still had issues getting in and out of their houses Saturday because the homes are surrounded by water.

Brew said she has a long list of road closures. According to the North Dakota Association of Oil and Gas Producing Counties road closures site, parts of Dunn County’s 99th Avenue are closed, and crews will be out Monday and through the coming weeks repairing roads where shoulders have been washed away or materials on the roadway have been washed off. Updates can be found at

“Everybody (is) crossing their fingers we don’t get any more rain,” Brew said.

Billings, Dunn, Golden Valley, McKenzie, northwestern Morton, Stark and western Mercer Counties were under a flood warning from the NWS until 5:30 a.m. Sunday because of water already on the ground causing flooding creeks and rivers. The NWS will reevaluate the conditions Sunday morning, Ayd said.

He said the other significant rainfall Friday night fell across much of Mercer County, northwest Morton County and eastern McKenzie and Billings Counties. Beach got 5 to 6 inches, he said.

Helgeson just hopes moisture stays away so the land has time to recover from the heavy rain.

“Hopefully it doesn’t rain anywhere. Hopefully it stays away for a while,” he said.

Dickinson Press Assistant Editor April Baumgarten contributed to this report. Lymn is a reporter for the Dickinson Press. Contact her at (701) 456-1211 or tweet her at kathlymn.