Weather Forecast


Southwestern North Dakota flood threat: Very low

Unlike several rivers across North Dakota, there is expected to be little, if any, threat of spring flooding along the Little Missouri River this year, including parts like seen above that run through Theodore Roosevelt National Park in Medora.

Snowmelt, such as that expected to send river waters flooding into eastern North Dakota cities, shouldn't impact the Little Missouri River in the western part of the state.

Kenneth Hellevang, North Dakota State University professor and extension engineer, said none of the rivers in southwestern North Dakota show any signs of significant flooding this spring.

"There is some flooding, though, that is occurring along the Souris as they let water out of the dams," Hellevang said.

As the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association prepares for Severe Summer Weather Awareness Week this week, Steven Robinson, associate director of the North Dakota Water Science Center, said the potential for snowmelt flooding this year is less than it has been in past years for the Little Missouri River.

The river is up to a little less than 3 feet, according to the National Weather Service in Bismarck. Flood stage is 15 feet.

Jeff Klein, North Dakota's national floodplain insurance coordinator, said the last significant flood on the Little Missouri was in 2009. This year, Klein said, appears to be the opposite.

"The Little Missouri River doesn't have a lot of population centers on the river, so when it floods the number of people negatively impacted is relatively low," he said.

Unfortunately, the same cannot be said for the Fargo area, where conditions this year have warranted flood warnings for Cass County and the Red River area that will continue until further notice, according to the National Weather Service.

The flood issues caused President Barack Obama on Thursday to declare an emergency in North Dakota and ordered federal aid to supplement state and local response efforts due to the emergency conditions caused by flooding that began last week in Cass, Grand Forks, Pembina, Richland, Traill and Walsh counties.

Snowmelt could impact areas around the Souris and James River Basins, according to a hydraulic outlook issued by the National Weather Service in Bismarck. Temperatures are expected to reach into the 60s by the end of the week, aiding the melting of any snow.

The outlook also indicates that much of the snow that has melted has been instantly absorbed by the soil, but that could change as more snow melts and the soil reaches its limits on the amount of moisture it can absorb.

It is expected that streams and rivers in flood-prone areas of the state would rise through the weekend, increasing risk.

Hellevang's advice for people who experience flooding in rural areas includes:

- Assemble supplies, such as water and food, that do not require refrigeration or cooking and have a battery-powered flashlight and radio, plus extra batteries in case the electricity goes off.

- Have an emergency power source such as a standby generator.

- Move or prepare to move important documents.

- Take steps to reduce the chance of contaminants entering your well.

- If a septic system drain field may be flooded or saturated, plug all basement drains and drastically reduce water use in the house.

- Plug floor drains if flooding is occurring next to the house because water can flow back through the septic system. Unbolt toilets from the floor and plug the outlet pipe, shower drains, washing machine and basement sink drain.

- Move machinery, feed, grain, fuel and agricultural chemicals, such as

pesticides and herbicides, to higher ground.

- Move motors and portable electric equipment to a dry location if possible.

- Anchor fuel and other tanks to keep them from moving with the floodwaters.

- Determine whether underground tanks are engineered to keep them from lifting out of the ground if the contents are lighter than water.

- Turn off electrical power to all buildings that could flood.

- Keep an inventory of livestock and property and prepare a list of hazardous or potentially hazardous substances.

- Move livestock to higher ground and be sure you have access to feed.

- If you have dairy cattle, develop plans for moving your cows to temporary milking facilities and learn about emergency milk pick-up services available in your area.

- Place riprap on the banks of earthen manure storage areas where flowing water may erode berms.