Reservoirs lower, melt ahead

Three Canadian reservoirs that influence flows in the Souris River have reduced their releases to a trickle. As a result, the level of the Souris where it enters North Dakota has begun to drop rapidly.

So too has the amount of water entering Lake Darling, approximately 1,860 cubic feet per second on Thursday.

With an inflow of 1,800 cfs and on the decline, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has announced its intention to keep Lake Darling outflows at 2,800 cfs, as least until the melt starts and runoff begins to enter the Souris River system.

The Corps says its goal remains to reduce the level of Lake Darling to 1,592 feet. However, says the Corps, they won’t release water through Lake Darling on top of snowmelt runoff. Lake Darling reached 1,593 feet and was falling on Thursday.

The probable scenario, if forecasts of warmer weather hold true, is that substantial melting may occur in the Minot region early next week. Either significant runoff or a drop in Lake Darling to 1,592 feet will trigger a closure of Lake Darling release gates. Officials on both sides of the border say they believe they have sufficient storage to capture anticipated snowmelt.

The National Weather Service issued a statement saying, “inflows to Lake Darling are falling. As Lake Darling reaches its desired drawdown target by Monday…its release rate will also fall. This should coincide with the upcoming spring melt and allow for less water coming from the dams during the local meltwater and spring rains runoff.”

The NWS cites “much below normal” temperatures as leading to a very gentle melt across the southern Souris River Basin. Similar weather conditions are expected until next week.

A reduction in the amount of water being released from Lake Darling, should that occur, will make room for snowmelt runoff without adding to the volume of water in the Souris. The latest Runoff Potential Outlook for the Souris as issued by the NWS calls for little chance of flooding, with a few minor exceptions, along the Souris this spring.