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  1. #1
    Senior Member JohnDoe2's Avatar
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    Aug 2008
    PARADISE (San Diego)

    Almost half the USA at risk for spring flooding

    Forecast: Almost half the USA at risk for spring flooding

    By Doyle Rice, USA TODAY
    Updated 1h 10m ago |

    The Upper Midwest isn't the only region expected to see potentially catastrophic flooding over the next few weeks. Almost half the USA, including much of the Midwest, Northeast and all the way down the Mississippi River Valley to New Orleans, has an above-average risk for spring flooding, according to a forecast issued by the National Weather Service on Thursday.

    Many metropolitan areas — where more than one million Americans live — have a greater than 95% chance of major flooding this spring, including Fargo and Grand Forks, N.D.; St. Paul, Minn.; Davenport, Iowa; Rock Island, Ill. and Sioux Falls, S.D.

    The highest spring flood risk areas include the Red River of the North, which forms the state line between eastern North Dakota and northwest Minnesota, the Milk River in eastern Montana, the James and Big Sioux Rivers in South Dakota, the Minnesota River, the upper Mississippi River basin from Minneapolis south to St. Louis, and a portion of lower New York, eastern Pennsylvania and northern New Jersey.

    "For the third consecutive year, the stage is set for potential widespread, record flooding in the north-central United States," said Jack Hayes, director of the weather service, at a press breifing on Thursday.

    MAP: U.S. spring flood risk
    The weather service says minor flooding could begin as early as this weekend along the Mississippi River and its tributaries in Minnesota and Wisconsin, while moderate to major flooding is possible in eastern South Dakota by next week.

    Meanwhile, while too much water will be the story in the North, drought will be a concern this spring in the Southwest, across the South and north into the mid-Atlantic. Drought has been spreading and deepening since the winter and is forecast to persist into spring in these regions. Wildfires will be an increasing threat as well, especially when humidity is low and when winds are high. ... cast_N.htm

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  2. #2
    Senior Member JohnDoe2's Avatar
    Join Date
    Aug 2008
    PARADISE (San Diego)
    N.D. river towns brace for 35% chance of record flooding

    By Judy Keen, USA TODAY
    Updated 58m ago |

    FARGO, N.D. — Denis Van De Kerckhove figured weeks ago that the Red River would spill over its banks again this spring.

    Find a Forecast
    Find your local weather with The Weather Channel zip-code lookup:

    By Dan Koeck for USA TODAY

    The experts agree with Van De Kerckhove. The National Weather Service says there's an 80% chance the river will exceed last year's 36.95-foot crest at Fargo and Moorhead, Minn., and a 35% chance it will surpass the record crest of 40.84 feet in 2009, when both communities were devastated by flooding.

    Flood stage is 18 feet.

    Bill Barrett, a weather service hydrometeorologist in Grand Forks, says this winter's snow total is a bad sign. Fargo has had 74 inches so far; in a typical winter, it gets about 40 inches.

    "The best case is for it to be warm enough to get the melt started, but dropping just below freezing at night," Barrett says. The greatest likelihood of flooding, depending on how fast snow melts and how much rain falls, is in late March or early April.

    Annual floods have wearied the people of Fargo and Moorhead, which are separated by the Red, and altered their relationship with the river. A vital trade route in the 1800s — it flows north into Canada — the river is a source of recreation and beauty, but is also now a threat.

    FORECAST: Who's at risk for spring flooding?
    It's "a love-hate relationship," says Dan Johnston, 61, another sandbag volunteer. "When it's in the banks and flowing, it's pretty along the river, it's tranquil. And when it gets mad, it gets real mad. ... You get to thinking that maybe it's in charge."

    Sandbagging it
    The Red River runs 550 miles through an area that was covered by a glacier in the last Ice Age. When the glacier melted, it created the vast Lake Agassiz. The river flows through the ancient lake bed, not a valley, so the flat land around it provides little flood protection.

    Fargo, which has 105,549 residents, and Moorhead, population 38,065, began preparing for this year's flood earlier than ever. Both started filling sandbags in February; Moorhead is stockpiling 1.5 million. Since 2009, Moorhead has bought and demolished 118 homes in flood-prone areas; Fargo has bought out 250 since a 1997 flood. Both cities have built and raised dikes.

    Fargo Mayor Dennis Walaker says his city can withstand a crest of 42 feet, but "it will take an extremely herculean effort again." When water starts to rise, the city will call volunteers to move sandbags to affected areas and stack them in place.

    Worry isn't keeping him awake yet, he says, but "as we get closer and closer, you go to sleep with a lot of questions and a lot of concerns."

    Moorhead's gate security
    Mayor Mark Voxland says even a 41-foot crest would leave most of Moorhead unscathed. It has a new system of gates to stop the flow of water into town and pumps to move rainwater out.

    Voxland drives along the river daily. It's not out of its bank yet, he says, but "you always want to be doing one more thing."

    A long-term solution to Red River floods is in the works, but it's $1.5 billion and years away.

    The Army Corps of Engineers project would include a 36-mile diversion channel to steer floodwaters away from the Red River and the Fargo-Moorhead area, says Corps project manager Aaron Snyder. It would divert water west of Fargo and would involve engineering feats such as building aqueducts under two smaller rivers.

    "It's very challenging," Snyder says. The 2012 federal budget includes $12 million for design work; construction could begin as soon as April 2013 and would take almost eight years, he says.

    Until then, people here can only watch and wait.

    "It's getting hard on people," says Jim Frost, 51, who owns an audio-visual business in downtown Fargo. "We still look forward to spring ... but we don't want the flood to come with it."

    Jason Thorp, 40, works at a hardware store and helps fill sandbags because he wants to do something useful instead of waiting for disaster. "It makes me feel good deep down inside," he says.

    Van De Kerckhove says he believes "there's going to be a day when (the river) takes over. Hope it's not in my day." ... 8_ST_N.htm

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