Watching the Des Lacs - KXNet.com - Bismarck/Minot/Williston/Dickinson-KXNEWS,ND

Watching the Des Lacs

Watching the Des Lacs

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Temperatures may be running 25 degrees below normal in our region right now, but people concerned about the potential for flooding are not hoping for any rapid warm-up.

That's because 60-degree warmth would mean snow piled up in gullys and on farm fields would become torrents of water that could cause flooding along rivers in the area.

That's a real concern for the people of Burlington.

Jim Olson was on the road with Burlington's mayor this weekend as he checked out the Des Lacs Valley and its potential for problems.

This is what is looked like just west of Burlington on April 8th, 2011. Here's what it looked like on April 10th, 2009. The area was enduring the rapid runoff of snowmelt from the Des Lacs River valley. And here's what that river valley looks like today.

(Jerome Gruenberg, Burlington Mayor) "Everything is still froze over, I don't see any water running - everything is iced up."

Burlington Mayor Jerome Gruenberg knows all too well what happens when a snowy winter turns to spring along the Des Lacs. The river swells suddenly - with sometimes devastating results. But normally, it's happened by now. In 2013, we're still waiting to see what all this snow will produce.

(Jerome Gruenberg, Burlington Mayor) "This is kind of scary because this all goes right through Burlington."

Gruenberg was standing in the Des Lacs National Wildlife Refuge near Kenmare - pointing out that the valley that feeds the Des Lacs River stretches far to the north.

(Jerome Gruenberg, Burlington Mayor) "It goes about to the Canadian border so this is a huge valley."

A few of the hilltops are bare - suggesting some snow has melted and soaked into the soil.

(Jerome Gruenberg, Burlington Mayor) "It doesn't look like there's a lot of runoff from that, maybe Mother Nature will be nice to us and soak up a lot of it but that stuff in the coulees, that's all going to come down, that's pretty sure."

And those coulees are in some places packed with several feet of snow - still waiting for a push from Mother Nature to melt and head for lower ground.

(Jerome Gruenberg, Burlington Mayor) "Nothing is moving, there is nothing moving here so this is going to be a long time unless we get some really warm weather."

Farther downstream at Foxholm,

(Jerome Gruenberg, Burlington Mayor) "This is just getting started..."

Gruenberg sees a trickle of water running in the Des Lacs - a first sign that a spring melt is arriving. He's hoping the trickle can be coaxed gradually into a manageable runoff.

(Jerome Gruenberg, Burlington Mayor) "You can see it's got a long way to go. If we get a slow melt, hopefully it'll stay in the banks."

And keep from causing scenes like these along the Des Lacs River from Carpio to Burlington this spring. Jim Olson, KX News.

Gruenberg says the city of Burlington is prepared to add to the levees in town along the Des Lacs River if flooding becomes likely.

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