In mid-October, the water was high – near flood stage – on the Minnesota River near Montevideo, Morton, Henderson and Jordan. The Mississippi was also near flood stage according to the National Weather Service Advanced Hydrologic Prediction Service.
Moderate flooding was occurring on the Wild Rice River near Ambercrombie, N.D., too. Following the significant snow/rainstorm event of Oct. 10-12, the Sheyenne River was flooding near West Fargo. At Harwood, N.D., the Sheyenne River crest was expected to reach just 1.5 feet below the springtime 2019 flooding mark.
KFGO reported Fargo crews, on Oct. 13, shut a half dozen river gates and activated pumps to move any additional runoff into the Red River.
West of the Twin Cities, on Minn. Highway 7 near Mayer, Minn., the South Fork Crow River flowed out of its banks and encased the trees and shrubbery with water. The river fell below flood stage on Oct. 14, but the speed and amount of water raging beyond the banks remained dangerous to motorists, outdoorspeople, wild and domesticated animals, livestock and farm crews.
The fall-time flooding is unusual – both for the large areas it encompasses as well as its timing, said Andrea Holz, NOAA Hydrologist based in St. Paul, Minn. Holz works primarily with the Red River Valley and hasn’t seen flooding like this in mid-October during her tenure.
“What we like to talk about is the ingredients for a spring flood, and one of those ingredients is a wet fall,” said Holz. “We’ve got that one filled. That ingredient is in full abundance.”
The other ingredients for spring flooding are heavy snowfall, frozen ground, spring snow runoff and heavy spring rain.
A blanket of snow that keeps the soil from freezing to a deep depth could be helpful, she added, to allow soil moisture to percolate deeper into soil.
However, as of Oct. 13, Minnesota topsoil moisture condition was 51 percent surplus and 49 percent adequate. North Dakota was 62 percent surplus and 38 percent adequate.
Subsoil moisture in Minnesota was 46 percent surplus and 54 percent adequate. In North Dakota, it was 48 percent surplus and 52 percent adequate, according to the National Ag Statistics Service.
It’s going to be difficult for the soil to absorb a lot more water ahead of next year’s growing season. Holz described the Red River Valley as very wet.
During the weather event of Oct. 10-12, not a lot of water was absorbed into the soil because there simply wasn’t water-holding capacity.
“This is rare,” she said. “I’ve worked here over 20 years, and never experienced anything like this.”