Outlook suggests serene Souris

There’s little cause for alarm in the most recent Flood Potential Outlook for the Souris River basin.

At no point along the river is runoff this spring projected to produce a serious threat of flooding. In fact, according to the outlook, this year’s runoff will generally be very gentle. The National Weather Service released their latest Souris River forecast Thursday.

According to the NWS, “the risk of flooding across the Souris River basin remains nearly unchanged from the previous outlook” and that there is “only a remote possibility” that the Souris will rise to the high water levels experienced in recent years, the worst of which was the historic flood of 2011.

The forecast, although not the final one to be released this runoff season and subject to change as conditions warrant, is good news for all interests along the river. Of particular interest to the Minot region is the amount of potential snowpack runoff in the upper reaches of the Souris. So far, aaccording to the outlook, runoff should be limited and the Souris is unlikely to reach flood stage at Minot or above.

Downstream from Minot the situation changes as Souris River runoff accumulates on its way back into Canada. “Soil moisture, especially in the southern part of the Souris River basin, remains high after a wet fall” said the outlook. Still, the Souris is not expected to reach levels unusual to its lower reaches during springtime in North Dakota.

Furthermore, states the outlook, “the expectation is that any high water this year would be of shorter duration as it is most likely to be locally generated runoff as opposed to sourced from above the dams.”

The dams referred to are Lake Darling Dam in North Dakota, and Rafferty and Alameda Dams in southern Saskatchewan. Snow cover throughout the Souris River basin above Minot and above the Saskatchewan dams is considered normal. All three dams are slightly below their Feb. 1 targeted elevation levels.

The Des Lacs River, which joins the Souris at Burlington, sometimes carries enough runoff to produce flood troubles. This year though, says the outlook, the Des Lacs is not expected to cause any unwanted problems. Minor flood stage on the Des Lacs is 16 feet. The river is given less than a five percent chance of reaching that level. The outlook issued similar numbers for stages along the Souris.

Near Sherwood, where the Souris enters North Dakota, minor flood stage is 18 feet. The outlook says there is less than a five percent chance of the Souris reaching 15.6 feet at that location. The 10 percent projection at the Boy Scout Bridge immediately northwest of Minot is for 15 feet where minor flood stage is 14 feet.

Minor flood stage at Minot’s Broadway Bridge is 1,549 feet. Thursday’s outlook contains only a five percent chance of the Souris at that location reaching 1,549.3 feet and a 95 percent chance of cresting at 1,542.1 feet.

The most problematic areas for possible high runoff are along the Wintering River and Willow Creek. It is expected that high soil moisture content in the Wintering River region will contribute to increased runoff. The Willow Creek watershed has generally received more snowfall than other regions of the Souris River basin and contains the potential for higher than usual runoff.

According to Thursday’s outlook, Willow Creek is given a 95 percent chance of reaching 13.3 feet at Willow City. Minor flood stage there is 10 feet and major flood stage 16 feet. The Wintering River is given a 95 percent chance of reaching 6.7 feet. Minor flood stage for that river is listed at 7 feet.

The Flood Potential Outlook utilizes temperature and precipitation data from 1948 through 2011 and the current measurement of snowpack at various points along the river basins.