Releases Spur Flood Watches - KXNet.com - Bismarck/Minot/Williston/Dickinson-KXNEWS,ND

Releases Spur Flood Watches

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Most river gages along the Mouse River in North Dakota are expected to get into, or close to flood territory over the next several days.

The National Weather Service is predicting many places will be dealing with minor flooding as water now being released from Lake Darling Dam makes its way downstream.

Jim Olson reports.

Lake Darling Dam began releasing 23-hundred cubic feet per second of water Wednesday afternoon into a river bed that - beginning just north of Burlington - is mainly iced over.

That raises the possibility of ice jams and localized rapid rises in the river.

But beyond the ice jam danger, the higher flows themselves will push the river into the minor flooding category east of Foxholm and the Boy Scout Bridge.

Downstream of Minot, the river is predicted to rise to what's called the "action stage," the zone just one foot below the minor flood stage early next week at places like Logan and Sawyer.

In Towner, the river is predicted to rise to minor flood stage by late Monday.

The release of 23-hundred CFS from Lake Darling is being done to draw down the lake's level to about 1593 - two feet lower than the lake ever reached in the spring of 2011.

Elizabeth Nelsen of the Corps of Engineers says the lower target for Lake Darling is not due to new management rules for the river system, but because of higher moisture levels in the snow pack that drains into the river system.

(Elizabeth Nelsen, US Army Corps of Engineers) "We have not changed our management plan. In 2011 there wasn't as much snow water equivalent as there is this year. So the agreement in 2011 required us to go to elevation 1595 feet whereas this year with additional snow water content we are going down to 1593 feet."

Nelsen says releases from Lake Darling will be modified if and when runoff from the Des Lacs River starts hitting the Mouse River where the two rivers meet near Burlington.

(Elizabeth Nelsen, US Army Corps of Engineers) "Before the local snowmelt runs off we will most likely be closing our gates like we have in the past in order to keep the peak lower. And then once the Des Lacs River runs off and starts to lower we will open our gates again to lower Lake Darling back down."

The Corps of Engineers is managing Lake Darling Dam under terms of the river management agreement because this is considered to be a "one in ten" year for snow melt in the system.

Jim Olson, KX News.

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