March 28, 2009
by Pat Neuman, Retired NOAA Hydrologist
Fargo crested last night or early this morning at approximately 40.8 ft.
The highest gage height at Fargo in 1997 was 39.72 ft. on 1997-04-18.
The highest gage height of record at Fargo was 40.10 ft on 04/07/1897.
Fargo stage at 10:00 AM today: 40.67 ft.
I started looking at this year's flood potential for the Red after NWS issued their March 13th outlook.
NWS timing for the flood looked wrong to me, with NWS highlighting what they thought would be a later than 'normal' runoff due to early 2009 being a La Nina year. Their outlooks talked about Red R crests in the 2nd or 3rd week of April.
I had studied the timing of historical floods in the Red and other river basins and presented a paper in 2003 on trends showing earlier in the season runoff in the Upper Midwest. On March 17th, I posted an entry to Areavoices Blog at the Fargo Moorhead Inforum on the timing of the flood saying ... "It's clear now that NWS was misguided on the timing of melt. The melt has already begun in the headwater areas of the Red River basin and some areas are already in flood. River flooding will begin well before the end of March. NWS considered a LA NINA effect in their weather and hydrology but did not consider a climate change effect, thus misleading the public."
My perspective on the timing of the flood was right on. As the flood worsened I posted my perspectives on how high the crests might be. My perspective on the height of the crest at Wahpeton was good. My perspective on the height of the crest at Fargo was not good ... but not as bad as NWS forecasts.
Documentation can be found at the Inforum home, at: Areavoices blog, Forum Flood Watch, under tags: --- Fargo crest --- My perspective for the Red --- Crest sooner --- Timing of floods earlier
Link to Fargo Moorhead Inforum: http://www.inforum.com/
Link to 2003 paper on "Earlier in the Year Snowmelt Runoff " ... http://www.mnforsustain.org/climate_snowmelt_dewpoints_minnesota_neuman.htm
Link to related article & comments on "Bent, not Broken: A nervous valley keeps eyes on Red", at: