New Outlook Increases Flood Chances - KXNet.com - Bismarck/Minot/Williston/Dickinson-KXNEWS,ND

New Outlook Increases Flood Chances

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The chances for flooding in the region have risen in the past two weeks.

That's the conclusion of the National Weather Service, which issued its new flood outlook today.

The Mouse River through Minot has been awakening from its winter slumber in recent days.

Water is pouring over coffer dams and open areas are showing up in the river ice.

That's because the gates at Lake Darling Dam have been opened - sending more than 450 cubic feet per second of water toward Minot and the rest of the river.

Water managers are moving water early this year based on Hydrologist Allen Schlag's latest estimate.

He says the persistent wet weather over the entire river basin has increased the snow pack and caused a higher probability of flooding this spring.

In the latest hydrologic outlook issued Thursday, the National Weather Service hydrologist increased the chances for high water.

Here are the percentage chances that the Mouse River will hit moderate flood stage at various locations.

At Foxholm, it's 27%. At the Boy Scout Bridge, it's 14%. In Minot, it's 8%. In Logan, 14%. Sawyer's chance of hitting moderate flood stage is 27%. It's less than 5% at Velva. But at Towner and Bantry, moderate flooding is a near certainty - put at over 95%. And the number is 80% at Westhope.

Other rivers also have increased chances of hitting flood stage. The chance of moderate flooding along the Des Lacs River is now put at 13% for Foxholm.

There's a 70% chance Willow Creek will hit moderate flood stage, and under a 5% chance of that level for the Wintering River at Karlsruhe.

For people in Minot and Velva, the presence of large levees decreases the probability of flooding in town. But Schlag says rural areas that are unprotected by levees may be dealing with water going over the banks of the rivers.

He says one of the most troublesome issues is the lack of thawing weather so far.

Schlag traveled to Minot Wednesday and noted that the snow still looked like "middle of winter" snow, with little of the signs he'd expect by now of deterioration of the snow. That could lead to a sudden melting of a lot of snow in a warm spell, causing overland flooding and sending a high volume of the snow melt into the river system.

As for the dams built to provide flood protection, Corps of Engineers Colonel Michael Price said this week reservoir levels are already below what's required in the international river management manual.

And he said they could go lower to if needed. He also noted that in the record flood year of 2011, the dams handled the snow melt without a problem.

(Col. Michael Price, US Army Corps of Engineers) "In 2011 the operating plan accounted for the snowmelt. It wasn't until all the rains in June that we started having all the problems. But the operating plan we did in Minot and all the other communities the operating plan accounted for the snowmelt."

The Corps of Engineers is taking over management of the US side of the Mouse River because this year is now considered what's called a "one in ten" year for runoff in the system. And water managers are warning that he chances for at least minor flooding are increasing with every snowstorm and cold day in the region. Jim Olson, KX News.

Another flood outlook from the National Weather Service is due to be released in two weeks.

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