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U.S. Geological Survey Flood Photos

 Red River of the North Flooding - 2001

Click on Image for Enlarged Version

The following is a description of the 2001 floods from a U.S. Geological Survey Open-File Report published in 2001.


During the spring of 2001, major flooding occurred for the second time in four years on the Red River of the North and its many tributaries in eastern North Dakota and western Minnesota.  Unlike the 1997 floods, which were the result of record-high snowpacks region-wide and a late spring blizzard, the 2001 floods were the result of above-average soil moistures in some areas of the basin, rapid melting of above-average snowpacks in the upper basin, and heavy rainfall that swept across the region on April 7, 2001.

In the fall of 2000, soil moistures varied across North Dakota and Minnesota.  Soil moistures were above average in southeastern North Dakota but were below average in western Minnesota because of below normal rainfall during the growing season.  Before freeze-up in November 2000, a series of storms saturated the upper portions of the soils preventing further infiltration of moisture and leaving many parts of the Red River Basin with 1 to 2 feet of snow.  Along the Red River, the 2000-2001 snowfall was above average but was less than the record 1997 snowfall.  Temperatures began to warm during the end of March and caused the flooding to start in the upper Red River Basin.  A massive storm system that brought heavy rains and high winds moved through the upper plains on April 6 and 7, 2001.  The upper part of the basin received 1 to 2 inches of rain that added to the flooding problem.  Rainfall continued periodically throughout April in parts of the Red River Basin.

Wahpeton/Breckenridge

On April 9, 2001, the peak stage on the Red River at Wahpeton, N. Dak., was 16.94 feet, which is 2.48 feet less than the record set in 1997, and the peak discharge was 9,220 cubic feet per second.  The recurrence interval for this peak discharge was between 25 and 50 years.  During the first two weeks of April, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (COE) built additional levees in Wahpeton and Breckenridge, Minn., to help minimize the flood damages.

Fargo/Moorhead

On April 14, 2001, the peak stage of the Red River at Fargo, N. Dak., was 36.63 feet, which is 3.09 feet less than the record set in 1997, and the peak discharge was 20,300 cubic feet per second.  The recurrence interval for this peak discharge was between 25 and 50 years.  In early April, the COE built five earthen levees adjacent to the Red River to protect the city of Fargo from the rising water.

Grand Forks/East Grand Forks

High discharges continued downstream on the Red River.  On April 14, 2001, the peak stage of the Red River at Grand Forks, N. Dak., was 44.87 feet, which is 9.48 feet less than the record set in 1997.  The peak discharge was 55,800 cubic feet per second, which occurred on April 11, 2001.  The recurrence interval for this peak discharge was between 10 and 25 years.  Because of high discharges upstream and heavy rainfall during the first week of April, Grand Forks city officials asked the COE to help raise the city dikes to 52 feet.

Canada

On April 24, 2001, the peak stage of the Red River at Emerson, Manitoba, just north of the international boundary between the United States and Canada, was 788.79 feet, which is 3.62 feet less than the record set in 1997, and the peak discharge was 55,600 cubic feet per second.  The recurrence interval for this peak discharge was between 10 and 25 years.

 

Macek-Rowland, K.M., 2001, 2001 Floods in the Red River of the North Basin in Eastern North Dakota and Western Minnesota: U.S. Geological Survey Open-File Report 01-169, 8 p.

GOES-8 [a Geostationary Operational Environmental Satellite deactivated 5/5/2004] image from NOAA (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration)

This GOES-8 [a Geostationary Operational Environmental Satellite deactivated 5/5/2004] image from NOAA (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration) shows the snow cover in the Midwest/Upper Plains states at 10:15 am central standard time (CST). The edge of snow cover is indicated by the yellow arrows. Snow can be identified by the well marked rivers and small lakes that are visible within the snow cover. These land marks are absent in areas to the east covered by clouds.
November 14, 2000

GOES-8 image from NOAA shows snow cover (off white) over the Upper Midwest and Plains states at 12:15 pm CST on March 27, 2001

This GOES-8 image from NOAA shows snow cover (off white) over the Upper Midwest and Plains states at 12:15 pm CST on March 27, 2001

USGS gaging station in the foreground, Red River flooding in the background

USGS gaging station in the foreground, Red River flooding in the background
April 8, 2001

Streamflow measurement

USGS personnel making streamflow measurements off a bridge

USGS personnel making streamflow measurements off a bridge
April 10, 2001

USGS personnel measuring flood overflow at a bridge on the Red River near Thompson, North Dakota

USGS personnel measuring flood overflow at a bridge on the Red River near Thompson, North Dakota
April 15, 2001


 Links to Additional Images of Red River of the North Flooding


Floodtracking Charts
North Dakota State University Fargo Flood Homepage
U.S. Army Corp of Engineers Flood Reconnaissance Photographs


USGS Flood Related Publications


North Dakota Water Resources Images
U.S. Geological Survey at Work Images

Flood Photos Gallery


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