Thursday, March 26, 2009

Record Red River crest of 42 feet approaching Fargo.. 52 foot crest forecast for Grand Forks

All eyes are on the Red River in North Dakota this weekend, as a record crest approaches Fargo. The Red is expected to crest at 42 feet at Fargo on Saturday (updated today from 41 feet) , the highest on record for that city. Extensive sandbagging and diking is ongoing in Fargo where contingency plans are being made in case the crest goes above projected levels. The crest will continue to move north this weekend reaching Grand Forks by Monday or Tuesday of next week. Latest forecasts have the crest reaching 52 feet in Grand Forks, about 2 feet lower than the record flood of 1997. NWS is predicting the crest to reach the MB border at Pembina between April 5th-10th, possibly at 1997 levels. Currently, the Red is expected to crest around 1979 or 1950 levels in Manitoba, the worst floods on the Red in the 20th century other than 1997.

Here are a few links to keep on top of the flooding situation on the Red this year.

NWS Grand Forks weather office

NWS flood forecasts

Manitoba Flood forecasts

Grand Forks Live Floodcam

Grand Forks Herald

Fargo News

Fargo floodcam

89 comments:

  1. For comparison to Link GFKS Live webcam the same bridge April 1997 pics are here .. http://www.math.montana.edu/~nmp/materials/ess/hydrosphere/expert/rrf/flood/flood2.html

    This is one the Bridges blamed for backing up the River to 54.5 feet instead of the oft revised 49-51 feet predicted at that time. Todays 50 to 53 feet prediction is 1 to 2 feet higher than they predicted at that time with a potential 120000cfs.

    With a lot of luck and evaporation, Manitoba Forecasters are predicting that 120000 will become 82500 cfs when it reaches the Wpg floodway (see Blog Link.. Manitoba Flood Forecast attachment)

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  2. Man this snow sure does not want to let up!!!!!
    Looks like another snow band might be setting up over Winnipeg with anther 2 cm of snow this afternoon!

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  3. Yeah enhanced band just came thru the central Winnipeg area.. it now lies from S Winnipeg NE right along the highway 59 corridor to Victoria Beach. Heaviest snow rates yet from the whole system...visibility dropped very low with the gusty winds.

    Looking at the sounding for Winnipeg reveals a near surface adiabatic layer below what appears to be a super saturated region up to 850 hPa. The thin cloud layer allowing for some surface heating?

    What do you make of it Rob?

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  4. here is Fargo's live streaming web cam. (click name)

    Wow, the water is high!

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  5. Justin..

    Thanks for the link.. will be interesting to watch over the next couple of days!

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  6. Daniel..

    Yes, definitely convectively unstable out there this afternoon. Late March sunshine is providing enough heating to develop low level convection and flurry activity. Instability is also generating those gusty winds out there giving occasional reduced vsbys in snow and blowing snow. I've been driving in between sunshine and snowsqualls all afternoon! Not a pleasant late March day out there! Things will quiet down this evening as the sun sets..

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  7. Latest NWS flood forecast has raised crest at Fargo another foot to 42 feet now, possibly reaching 43. City of Moorhead, MN recommending most of the southwest part of the city to consider evacuating.

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  8. Some rather worrisome comments from the NWS concerning the crest forecast for Fargo..

    CONDITIONS ON THE RED RIVER AT FARGO HAVE GROWN INCREASINGLY DANGEROUS OVER THE PAST 24 HOURS. THE RIVER IS CURRENTLY APPROACHING RECORD LEVELS AND SHOWING NO SIGN OF SLOWING AT THIS POINT. AS THE RIVER EXCEEDS THE PREVIOUS RECORD LEVEL...THE RELATIVE UNCERTAINTY IN FORECAST MODELS HAS INCREASED SIGNIFICANTLY. RECORD FLOWS UPSTREAM OF FARGO HAVE PRODUCED UNPRECEDENTED CONDITIONS ON THE RED RIVER. GIVEN THESE FACTORS...THE RIVER IS EXPECTED TO BEHAVE IN WAYS NEVER PREVIOUSLY OBSERVED. THE CREST FORECAST AT FARGO IS NOW EXPECTED TO BE BETWEEN 41 AND 42 FEET BY SATURDAY...BUT COULD POTENTIALLY BE AS HIGH AS 43 FEET...AND CONTINUE FOR 3 TO 7 DAYS.

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  9. Off Topic Rob but whats you opinion on the effect if any the Alaskan Volcanic eruptions will have on Northern Plains. Mt St Helens and the fiendishly hot arid spring and summer 1980 come to mind

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  10. I don't have a lot of expertise in this area.. but my understanding is that the dry pattern was well under way in April of 1980, while Mt St Helen's didn't erupt until mid May. So I don't know how much of a factor the eruption was on the dry pattern that year. My guess is that there was some other climatic driving force that led to the dryness in 1980.

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  11. UNREAL....
    According to the latest GFS run North Dakota would be getting a heavy snowstorm early next week!

    Also looks like parts of Fargo is getting evacuated!!!!

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  12. Does the dry year follow el nina (1979) In 1980 a.i.r. (as I recall) Feb to May longwkend no Precip. .. then none again til August long weekend. Wpg Temps In last half of April were mid 20s to low 30s (hi70s to 90F) and didn't cool off until Fall.

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  13. NOAAs 3 day + 4in. Snow prediction looks ominous for ND Link should be from my name. If that doesn't work use

    http://www.hpc.ncep.noaa.gov/wwd/day3_psnow_gt_04.gif

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  14. I've been googlearthing and reading up on your flood control system a bit this week, it really is an amazing setup.
    Are you in an area that could be flooded?

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  15. Rob...

    Where do they get the snowdepth measurements for the Winnipeg 'a' climate station (XWG)... it is just a satellite estimate?

    Depth dropped to 3 cm before during the rain/thaw. It is now only up to 4 cm... I imagine drifting has played a large role just like in Grand Forks before.

    SCRIBE guidance for Winnipeg next week is laughably bad. Highs of 7 C(?!)... GEM itself show the 534 thickness staying well south of the area. Obviously this guidance is not taking into account the new snowcover.

    And BTW.. even GEM is coming around to a more northern solution for the Mar 30/31 system. It show the extreme SE N Dakota in the heavy precip and hits SE Manitoba with weak deformation band/ wrap around with 5 cm accumulation...

    ReplyDelete
  16. One of the most useful items I've heard on CBC's Radio Noon was a guy who explained the differences between what was happening in ND and what was happening here. We have the advantage of a Red with three times the capacity of the Red in ND, plus we have the floodway. So one can never say we're safe, but we can have more confidence that we'll survive this excess water event unscathed.

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  17. Daniel..

    The snow sensor at XWG is a sonic snow sensor.. basically using sound waves to estimate snow depth. It's on many of EC's auto stations. It's not the most reliable system, but generally works OK. It does however only measure in the one spot below the sensor, so it can be very unrepresentative in windy conditions with drifting and blowing snow. Even then, going from 3 cm to 4 cm after Wednesday's storm seems suspiciously low.

    For the record, I'm back to 27 cm snow depth at my place.. the same as two weeks ago. As Scott said.. back to square one. **sigh**

    Agree with your comments on next week's optimistic warming.. which is a good thing as far as flooding is concerned. The last thing they want is a rapid melt..

    ReplyDelete
  18. ...the only place where the capacity of the river is seemingly great enough to prevent widespread flooding is north of Winnipeg. If not for the floodway southern Winnipeg easily gets inundated.

    btw, I have heard the droning noise of many helicopters suddenly today...

    ReplyDelete
  19. Hi Pat..

    Yes, Winnipeg is indeed fortunate to have a floodway to protect the city from massive flooding. It has saved us countless dollars in damage in the many years it's been in operation. Over the past couple of years, they've increased the floodway capacity to handle a 1 in 700 year type flood.. which certainly puts us in good shape this year.

    As for me, I live in the southwest part of the city well away from the Red River.. so flooding from the Red does not directly affect me. We do however have lots of overland water this year from the saturated soil, rain and ice storms, and melting snowpack.

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  20. South central Wpg on the river where 3 days and 18 feet of unpredicted/icejam flooding has the Ice at the base of our Sandbag Dike 25feet from our res.

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  21. Is another Aerial survey of RRV scheduled or being considered?

    Just prior to 1997 (air) EC had discontinued a large portion of their Data reporting sites making Flood prediction an art as much as a science. In ND some sites near the Rouseau R were non reporting (as the Snow was so high it blocked out the sun). It wasn't until after an aerial survey the second week of April post blizzard that MB FP updated their prediction.

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  22. Jim..

    I haven't heard if another aerial survey is being considered. Probably a good idea in light of how things have changed since the last aerial survey (melting of old snowpack then addition of latest snowfall) Obviously, the more up to date your input data is, the better for forecasting. However, I have no idea how often they need to update that data or how hydrological models handle snowpack. I leave that up to Alf and the hydromet guys at the province.

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  23. Off topic for a second...does anyone see any teen or near teen digit temps in the near future? I would like spring to start now.

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  24. GFS showing warmup into double digits by second week of April.. but we're going to have to get rid of all this snow first.

    By the way, latest NWS flood forecast shows that crest at Fargo has peaked.. and will slowly be receding from current levels. Good news for Fargo and the rest of the valley if that forecast holds..

    ReplyDelete
  25. GEM and GFS have remained consistent in painting heavy precip for extreme southern N Dakota for Monday. They also show wrap around precip backing into Winnipeg for Wednesday. I would expect sub freezing temperatures and light snow/flurries Wednesday and Thursday.

    SCRIBE guidance continues to be totally out lunch giving us rain showers and 3 C for Thursday. Don't the output statistics for SCRIBE come from GEM? EC needs to roll back their extended forecast or seriously improve their guidance package. Media outlets were already speaking of a big thaw last nite. I hope the province does not rely on the same guidance EC for its flood forecast.

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  26. Temps here went up all night to -5C at 8am.. Airport was -15C Could be the river but we're loc in the middle of a 1k icepack.

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  27. Does anyone see the potential for any accumulating snow this week for Southern Manitoba?????

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  28. Ok Daniels

    Share with us what you know pls.

    More snow?

    ReplyDelete
  29. The 12z WRF model shows a decent snow event for tuesday into wednesday for Winnipeg. Fargo gets hammered tomorrow with over a foot of snow...just what they need. Strong winds and heavy snow, I foresee dike failures!

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  30. Okay I had some time to look into my crystal ball lol...

    First of all, striations of bare ground already visible SW of Winnipeg. These are areas where wind lowered snowdepths and the strong early spring sun has worked its magic. Depending on the amount of sun we get, we may flirt with above freezing temps tomorrow.

    Low ejects out from N Colorado and initially targets southern N Dakota on Monday. ECMWF and GFS trending farther north in recent runs with GEM sticking to a more southern track.

    GFS and GEM agree fairly well in amplifying upper ridge over Great Lakes by late Monday... this deflects the low on a more northerly track... very similar to the last system. Deformation band slowly starts backing in... first into extreme SE Manitoba by Tuesday afternoon, and then into eastern RRV by overnite.

    I think 10-15 cm of snow is possible in SE Manitoba by Thursday with 5-10 in RRV. Amounts taper off further west...

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  31. current radar echoes are north of model forecast precipitation locations. I agree with Daniel and the more northward Low location

    RRV (canada) may see 10-15cm. Fargo 30-40cm and strong winds creating waves and pressure on the dikes

    ReplyDelete
  32. Wow. That is very interesting. Sure wouldn't know anything like that based on EC forecast. Thanks for sharing that information.

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  33. Note that my weather station is not updating to my site. I won't be able to fix it for a few days. In the meantime, you can get updated Charleswood weather info from the Pacific Junction School website (data is current, but time is still in standard time)

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  34. There is more agreement on Daniels and ANONs Snow forecasts from NOAA see their 6am Eastern ND Graphic Click on my name

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  35. Is this low expected to push north and then counter rotate into the Manitoba area or is going to push through Ontario. I have heard that their is another 2 Colorado Lows to follow over the next week is their truth to this or is this rumour?

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  36. CNN CHAD Myers just referred to it as one of a series that could put the predicted snow plus another 5" of rain. Is he serious???

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  37. Is this weather pattern similar to 1996??

    This is from NOAAs ANATOMY OF A RED RIVER SPRING FLOOD "Different results occurred following the winter of 1995-1996. Snowfall was again heavy, 74.6 inches (FARGO), which was the fourth snowiest on record. A mild February dropped snow depths from nearly two feet at the beginning of the month to less than a foot going into March. Mild conditions again occurred the second week in March dropping the snow depth to a trace! This series of weather events seemed to temporarily eased concerns for any significant spring flooding. However, a cool down occurred the second half of March into the first week in April which stalled melting of the remaining snow cover and ensuing runoff. From the 16th of March to the eighth of April temperatures failed to reached 40 degrees and climbed above 32 degrees less than 40% of the period. A series of precipitation events raised snow depths up to eight inches going into April.

    Starting on April 8th temperatures soared, ranging from the middle 40s to middle 60s across the entire basin. These warm temperatures melted the remaining snow pack in a matter of a few days, which caused a rapid runoff. Since this melting occurred relatively late in the spring melt period, rapid runoff occurred across the whole basin. As a result of the rapid warming late in the spring melt season, moderate to major flooding occurred over a large portion of the basin. Fargo crested on the 16th of April at 28.73 ft. which caused moderate flooding. Grand Forks crested at a stage of 45.82 ft. which caused significant flooding. Significant flooding was observed at Drayton, Pembina and Winnipeg as well."

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  38. Interesting satellite picture Fargo Moorehead taken 28 March 2009 here:
    http://earthobservatory.nasa.gov/IOTD/view.php?id=37702&src=iotdrss

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  39. Question...

    If Fargo received over 12'' of snow on top of the 8'' they received last week...wouldn't the snow that melts cause flooding in the city?

    They've spent all this time keeping the water out, what about the snow that will eventually become water? And that snow is absolutely everywhere. The natural thing would be for the snowmelt to flow into the river but it can't.

    I'm also curious about this second crest. It could potentially be bad if the warm up comes quick. Long range shows cooler then normal temperatures well into April. If it remains in the 30's then suddenly jumps into the 50's, there may be record runoffs all surging into the river.

    That might be our problem here in South Man in the next couple of weeks.

    Either way, it's been very unpredictable this Spring, and the models are doing a really good job at predicting events out a long way...that never happens!

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  40. SNOWFALL WARNING issued for all of southern eastern Manitoba!!!!

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  41. This new storm system is heading much further north than first thought!

    Now Winnipeg forecast is for 5 cm of snow.....WONDERFUL

    Areas around Fargo ND could see as much as 15- 17 inches of snow!

    IF they get a rapid melt of that new snow then things could get bad!

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  42. NB: you can still access temp data for Rob's site under 'current obs' ---> 'latest obs'

    This snowfall should not come as a surprise to anyone who follows this blog regularly.

    Unfortunately, I think EC was asleep at the wheel on this one... yesterdays focn simply stated 'nil significant weather' for the eatern prairies.

    GEM and GFS showed consistence and agreement in hitting SE Manitoba with deformation band... why was no watch put out?

    I would also issue a watch region as a buffer between warned and non warned areas. Watch could be downgraded or upgraded according to RADAR trends.

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  43. The temperature at the Winnipeg Airport is above zero now!

    The precip that is moving in...will it be rain , snow, or freezing rain????
    hmmmmm.....

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  44. It will come in as snow... above freezing layer is very shallow. Temps at 850hPa are -6 C from forecast sounding. Even if it does start as light drizzle... dewpoints are below zero and evaporative effects will rapidly cool the column to support snow.

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  45. Looking at the radar it would appear their would be more than 5 cm of snow on the way for the Winnipeg area

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  46. Snow having trouble overcoming still warm surfaces. The sun is strong enough now to heat concrete surfaces and bare ground even thru clouds. For accumulations to start in earnest:

    i)snow rates would have to be much higher

    ii)there would have to be advection of very cold air at the low levels

    Snow rates are about as high as they will get from RADAR and there is no arctic air in the immediate vicinity.. therefore I think roads will stay wet until the sun goes down. This is good news for the afternoon commute and will make snow accumulations tough to pin down. Still think 5-10 cm for YWG once the snow starts sticking.

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  47. Sometimes I wonder about Enviroment Canada. We're in the middle of a snow event and they just changed the Radar over to rain. Their forecasts seem to be getting more and more erratic. I wonder sometimes if they even have a office in Manitoba. (Maybe they don't.) That would explain a little more.

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  48. If you want a good radar....check out the "weather networks"

    They have a cool map overlays so you can see precisely where the heavy snow is

    It will good for Summer Storms when you can zoom right in!

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  49. 9:00 p.m observations at the Winnipeg airport show freezing rain, when it is clearly all snow that is falling!

    Looks like about a couple cm of fresh snow has fallen already!

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  50. Wow

    Thanks Daniel


    Weathernet has made a major improvement on theirs. When did they do that? I used to hate their maps but this is way better then EC

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  51. It looks like January out there again......*sigh*

    Will spring ever get here?????

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  52. Kudos on that TWN RADAR.
    Also, I'm starting to believe NOAAs Continuous update ND Flood and Forecast page and the 1 2 and 3 day snow forecast maps >4" >8"> and >12".

    At Noon today they changed the MB RRV to >4" a 40% chance and >8" a 10% for the 24 hours ending tomorrow at 6pm

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  53. Well as of 11:00pm EC has changed their forecast again I think this is the third time tonight. Now for Winnipeg its 5-10cm

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  54. Snowfall warning re issued!!!!

    10 -15 cm of snow already on the ground!!!

    WOW! did we ever get more snow than first predicted!!!

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  55. Wow did EC drop the ball on this forecast. Who works there...seriously? I thought you had to have a degree to become a meteorologist. I can forecast better then this just by wetting my finger and sticking it into the wind.

    Come on, this was the worst forecast in the history of terrible forecasts from Winnipeg.

    EC couldn't forecast a fart if someone ate burritos all night.

    We got way more then 2-4cm, more like 10-15cm.

    And to top it all off, they issue a snowfall warning after the snow has fallen. Is this an April Fool's Joke? They should close the Winnipeg office down. Shame on them.

    I believe Daniel, Scott, Justin and Anonymous' forecasts more then I'd ever believe EC's forecast again.

    I'm overly disappointed.

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  56. Well even NWS did not do a great job on Grand Forks. They were calling for 5 inches in Grand Forks and they got a whopping 1 slushy inch. Boy are your memories short. The storm last week that gave 15 to 20 cm was accurately predicted by EC eventhough everyone was downplaying the snow amounts to a tune of 5 cm or less. EC stuck by its guns and left egg on all of your faces. So those who cast the first stone...

    Need I remind you of this past storm. Here is a post saying that EC did a great job on the previous storm. Those EC guys are not perfect and will miss the occasional event but more times than not are fairly accurate.

    Good Job Environment Canada!
    It truly looked like the snow would never make it here but they were persistent with there forecast and looking out the window this morning ....
    it looks it was a good call....

    7:44 AM, March 25, 2009

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  57. If we get a rapid melt down of all this snow along with a major ice jam even here in the City of Winnipeg we could have some serious flooding issues!!!!

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  58. As to the science of FLOOD prediction.. . THE USGS on their main SOREL bridge gage site show current RR discharge at Grand Forks as 73700 cfs. at 49 feet While the AHPS (NOAA) latest Flood charts (Source USGS?) show it at 85000 cfs. at 49 feet

    The Manitoba Water Stewardship sheets show current discharge #s from USGS and Historical #s equal to the NOAAs ...so Canadian eh..

    I wonder which they use for their forecast.

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  59. Has anyone seen Rob????

    Maybe Rob is on vacation somewhere nice and warm with crystal blue waters and nice sandy beaches.........

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  60. Wow, that was quite the speech from Thomas

    I understand where he's coming from a bit.

    EC did a good job last week with the storm that hit YWG.

    It just sucks that after doing so well, they did so bad. It is odd that they issued a snowfall warning after the fact

    No one is perfect, I still have faith in EC. I do want to work for them after all!

    Cheers,

    "Forecast a fart" Wow!

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  61. Does anyone see a major warming trend in the next 7 Days

    TWN shows a max of 5C in the next 14. Great River news if its accurate

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  62. but at the same time it isnt great river news is it?

    yes it prevents run off being fast, but at the same time it increases the risk of ice jams

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  63. Elie Manitoba is coming in with the most snow.... 17 cm with this latest winter blast!!!!

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  64. It was not exactly EC's finest hour, and it is easy to become frustrated. Ultimately, the problem lies with our federal government (both liberal and conservative) that has slashed spending on our meteorological service.

    Forecast regions are ridiculously large and forcing meteorologists to not look beyond 24 hrs is absurd.

    The meteorologists do not have access to modern, quantitative forecasting techniques. As such, diagnosing and prognosticating dynamic features of the atmosphere is made more difficult.

    This is exactly the reason we must put pressure on our elected officials to increase spending on our weather service and science research. In the context of increasing atmospheric CO(2)concentration , our climate is becoming increasingly volatile and unstable. Can we afford to not invest in better research and prediction of future extreme events?

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  65. I don't think we should get too carried away with criticizing EC. As Daniel mentioned, they have experienced a lack of funding from the government and are struggling to maintain their current services. We can probably all agree that this is ridiculous, since weather is potentially life-threatening force. To me EC is a group of dedicated individuals who love weather, Rob is a perfect example of that.

    However like any organization EC is bound to make mistakes and I don't mind poking fun at them every so often. At the end of the day they do a great job at what they do, considering the kind of pressure they are under. I agree that the last storm was a strike-out, but we can't hold that against them...every weather service makes mistakes ever so often (that potential obviously increases when you are dealing with weather).

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  66. Kudos to you guys. Many posts ago, it was mentioned that a few colorado lows would come through. Just recently you (I'm too lazy to go back and see who posted it) predicted this low would swing a little further north than expected. Job well done. Alot of the frustration comes from the fact that everyone is so tired of the weather. It seems we have had more snow in the first 2 weeks of spring than we had all winter. I guess we all need to vent.

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  67. Daniel wrote:

    "In the context of increasing atmospheric CO(2)concentration , our climate is becoming increasingly volatile and unstable."

    That's simply not true, and several scientists and meterologists have refuted that claim, including former ABC Good Morning America weatherman John Coleman.

    What's next, the Moon is really made of cheese?

    The scientific evidence, over and over again is that it is the solar cycle that causes the Earth to heat up and cool down. And not only the Earth, but this has also been occurring on the other planets in the Milky Way. There are no automobiles on the other planets. No industry or human beings.

    No, the true reason for the global warming scam is population reduction.

    I've heard quotes from Ted Turner (CNN) and Prince Philip of England that they favour massive population culls.


    Ted Turner population reduction plan

    Prince Philip on population cull

    These people want to create a tax on CO2 so they can tax our breathing.

    They want to create "smart" appliances and smart energy grids so they can monitor and CONTROL how much energy you use.

    Yet it seems that if there were no wars, our planet could support up to about 12 billion humans. There's a lot of land to use up in Canada.

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  68. "And here I was all this time without my tinfoil hat on! What a fool I was!"

    And, I mean, if John Coleman and his journalism degree say it, it has to be true!

    Moving back to weather talk, then…

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  69. 5 days of NO significant pcpn.
    No not my prediction but NWS Hydromet Prediction Center.
    Link on My name or http://www.hpc.ncep.noaa.gov/qpf/p120i00.gif

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  70. What the heck? I go away for 5 days and there's more snow than when I left!

    I was down in Minneapolis for the past 5 days. Sure was nice to get a few days without snow on the ground. On the way down, we crossed the Red River at Fargo the day after their record crest. The I-94 bridge over the Red River was still open, even though the water was almost up to the bridge deck. At that time, snow cover was gone just outside of Fergus Falls. By the time we headed back today, the snow cover had moved south of St Cloud thanks to that midweek snowstorm. Depressing to see the snow line shift SOUTH in the spring! That snowstorm at the end of March really set us back a good 2-3 weeks as far as spring is concerned.

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  71. Welcome back to Winter-peg Rob!
    Sounds like you had a nice break!

    The big concern now is if all this snow melts very rapidly we could be in more some major water woes!!!

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  72. Thanks Daniel..

    I'd like to say it's good to be back.. but considering that it still looks like early March out there.. I think I would have preferred staying in Minneapolis for another month!

    As for the prospects of a quick melt.. I don't see much evidence of a big warm up anytime soon. That's good news for the flood situation... but depressing for those of us looking for spring! Looks like below normal temperatures for the next week or so with models hinting at a gradual warmup by the second week of April.

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  75. A year ago Rob took off on the last few days of March and the first few days of April and the EC fcsts were pathetic (according to all those who posted at that time (see posts on mar 31 2009)

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