The flood projection

(This was originally posted on Friday morning but the chart has been updated with the Saturday morning river observations. There was no change in the projection in the last 12 hours.)

I still haven’t come up with a particularly enlightening graphical representation of the changing forecasts for the Red River, which is expected to rise to about the same level next week that it did at the height of the flood threat a few weeks ago.

So I’m going with the tried-and-true system of just keeping track of the actual projections from the National Weather Service over time, which allows us to compare the changing projections and also compare them to the actual results.

Today, for example, the current projection for the weekend is almost a foot a foot-and-a-half higher than the projection for the same period was on Tuesday. So without rain — fingers crossed — perhaps this means more water will move through earlier and keep the crest lower. Or maybe it’ll mean the crest will come sooner. Or maybe it means neither.

From the looks of the tail end of map above, it looks like the crest will be a week from today at 39 feet.

If you’re a homeowner in the area, how would you plan?

Forecast date

(7 a.m.)

Actual
Projection

issued on 4/7

4/8
4/9
4/10
4/11
4/12
4/13
4/14
4/15
Thrs 4/9
31.6
31.3
Fri 4/10
31.6
30.8
31
31.7
Sat 4/11
31.93
30.3
30.3
31.4
31.9
Sun 4/12
32.06
30.2
30.4
31.8
32.7
32.7
Mon 4/13
32.28
31.8
32
33.3
34.2
34.2
33.1
Tue 4/14
32.93
34
34
35.5
36.0
36.0
34.9
34.1
Wed 4/15
33.7
36.3
37.3
37.7
37.7
36.5
36.0
34.3
Thrs 4/16
37.3
38.6
38.9
39.0
37.7
37.4
35.1
34.5
Fri 4/17
39.3
39.3
38.0
38.0
36.2
35.2
Sat 4/18
39.0
37.8
37.7
37.0
35.5
Sun 4/19
37.3
37.1
36.8
35.3
Mon 4/20
37.3
36.5
36.4
35.0
Tue 4/21
 
34.6

All of the indicated projections (unless indicated otherwise) are based on the evening flood forecast.

  • Al

    If I were a homeowner in the area I would plan the same way I would have before. I’d plan to get a realtor and/or attend meetings where they decide whether or not to buy up my property and give it back to the river. When we looked for our last house and our current one the elevation above nearby rivers and streams definitely entered the decision about whether or not to buy.

    For the life of me I can’t figure out why people move onto land that has previously flooded or is clearly in the flood plain. A prime example was the condo project they built about 6 feet above the river next to the power plant in downtown St. Paul. Maybe I’m wrong on the timing, but it seemed like they started that project about a year after the Mississippi threatened that area. Who will pick up the tab for the temporary dikes, rescue, and reconstruction when – not if – the river threatens this ridiculous project? Taxpayers, of course. Let’s get smarter about where we build. And let’s not forget that you don’t need to be able to see the river out your window to be in danger.

  • Bob Collins

    //onto land that has previously flooded or is clearly in the flood plain.

    I don’t know if you’ve been to the area, but you really should go. You have to see the geography of the land firsthand.

    I thought James Lileks had a great column a couple of weeks ago. Why do people build where there might be a tornado? Or an earthquake.

  • Al

    Bob, I have driven through the area, but only once, and I did notice how flat it is. However, I have also see the pictures and overhead shots you have posted. Some of those streets lie on peninsulas that the river forms as it twists around a block or two size piece of land. If I know the geography is really flat and the land is prone to wide reaching flooding because of it, I wouldn’t buy my home without taking a good look at a topographical map and considering the consquences. The difference may be that some people look at the previous flood and say ‘That was a 100 year flood and it will probably never happen again in my lifetime.’ and I look at it and say ‘It happen once it could again.’ I’m willing to take that gamble on smaller things, but my home and life savings? Too rich for my blood. I’ll fold and take a place somewhere else.

    As for tornados, clearly those are hit and miss, unlike the path of a river.

  • Bob Collins

    The overhead shots are quite misleading. And the path of the river IS hit or miss, especially when we’re talking about 100 year floods.

    Now the floods are coming more regularly, that’s true, but that’s a changing climate.

    In Moorhead, the flood plain is actually being redrawn. Many of the neighborhoods I focused on when I was up there weren’t in the defined flood plain, or at least in the high-risk flood plain. I don’t think people realize how far away the river actually was from those homes.

    And in that section of the country, remember, that flooding isn’t always from the river. It’s overland flooding. A river isn’t involved.

    And it’s fertile ground. Good for farming.

  • Donna Morse

    Hello,

    I felt that I should make a comment on the issue of living in an area where the river could flood or for that fact, being one of the lots that backs up to the river. I think you may have been correct when you say that the river would like it’s land back, yet if you would have told someone that when they built our home in the late 70’s, they would have laughed as the river IS, as Bob has mentioned, a distance from our home and wasn’t a threat when the home was built. Perhaps you could say that one should know that the river would “reclaim” the land…well, does that go the same for this entire area…after all it is a lake bottom! Should the entire area be eventually vacated incase the lake wants to return? I too am concerned with the amount of money that this mess will cause the taxpayers…after all, I am one of them! I don’t know what the answer might be at this time, yet I know that if one was to come to the area and be hands on, as Bob was, they too would agree that this is a issue that no one would have perdicted. There is a new flood plain map coming out this summer and we are now in the flood plain…we were not even a risk in the past…now we are a high risk. We did buy flood insurance in February when we heard of a new map and there was a chance we would be part of the flood plain now, yet what does that really cover. I have to dig into it deeper, yet I’m not convienced that was the answer either. We’ve worked hard to save our neighborhoods and will continue to do so as the new crest comes, yet we have also considered selling our home for many reasons. One of them is that we are tired and not sure we want to do this sort of thing again. Right now it’s hard to even think about moving as we’re just trying to find a new “normal” for our family as we live daily trying to know what is the best thing to do. Our home and yard is in disarray. You try to go to work and your mind struggles to switch gears from water to work! Yet again, if we were to move to an acreage and build a home, as Bob mentioned, so much of the issue here is overland flooding…again, after all it is a lake bottom. Just some thoughts to chew on!

  • Tim

    Now that the crest has happened and hopefully the people near the Red River can start to think about planning for the next flood, I wonder if eyes should turn to our neighbor to the north. Winnipeg Canada has built a channel around their city to “divert” the flood water. We have been fighting to keep the river in the banks, when they have created a new set of banks.

    This is easy to see with google maps or google earth. It is a large channel that can take the flood water away from the historic buildings and peoples homes during a flood. It seems to allow the river to flow through town when it is not a flood. It might cost some $$$, but it would save the beauty of a city and its river front, and would avoid these all too frequent rushes to sand bag and attempts to rescue a city, not to mention having to deal with the aftermath.