History in the making

by Liza on Mar. 27th, 2009

By 10:15 this morning, the Red River reached 40.6 feet, beating the record high water mark of 40.1 feet set 112 years ago. The river's rise shows no signs of slowing, and the National Weather Service predicts that the river will crest at 43 feet on Saturday afternoon. (That's 3 feet higher than the 1997 flood, and 1-3 feet above earlier predictions for this year. Two inches of rain and snow in the last four days prompted the higher forecast.) Emergency officials can no longer rely on historical data to help them make decisions.

Fargo's main dike protects the city at the 43-foot level, and city officials have no plans to try to raise it any further. (There's no time.) In other areas, volunteers are continuing to lay sandbags, hoping to protect cities, homes, and farms in the river's path. But water is breaching some dikes and evacuation orders are being issued for some areas. Forecasters say the river is likely to remain at more than 40 feet for as long as a week, putting pressure on the already taxed sandbag and temporary dike system.

Minnesota Public Radio's Bob Collins is writing from Fargo on the News Cut blog. Check it out.

Your Comments, Thoughts, Questions, Ideas

Thor's picture
Thor says:

I heard a reporter on the morning TV news say that the sudden drop in temperatures below freezing has also hurt the structural integrity of the sand bags. Moisture in the sand is freezing, making the sand bags turn into bricks and that takes away the absorption properties of the sandbags, making them more likely to give way.

posted on Fri, 03/27/2009 - 12:36pm
Liza's picture
Liza says:

Yeah, I heard they were trying to buffer the sandbags by wrapping them in sheets of plastic, but no one seems to have a good opinion on how long the sandbag dikes will last.

posted on Fri, 03/27/2009 - 12:53pm
Thor's picture
Thor says:

Here's a link to an interactive map that shows river levels all along the Red River. I especially like that you can change the base view of the map to get a better picture of the outlying terrain along with the political boundaries and transportation routes.

posted on Fri, 03/27/2009 - 12:52pm

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