Monday, June 27, 2011

1,561.72: Souris crest sets record four feet higher

Minot (pronunciation: my-not) is a city located in north central North Dakota in the United States. It was named by Departures Magazine to be the best place to raise a family in 2010. It is also known for the large and extensive Air Force base located approximately 15 miles north of the city. With a population of 40,888 at the 2010 census, Minot is the fourth largest city in the state. The city is the county seat of Ward County and is a trading center for a large portion of northern North Dakota, southwestern Manitoba, and southeastern Saskatchewan. Founded in 1886 during the construction of the Great Northern Railway, Minot is also known as "Magic City", commemorating its remarkable growth in size over a short time.

Minot is the principal city of the Minot Micropolitan Statistical Area, a micropolitan area that covers McHenry, Renville, and Ward counties and had a combined population of 69,540 at the 2010 census.

Minot Daily News: 1,561.72: Souris crest sets record four feet higher
The swollen Souris River, the dirty rotten scoundrel that has overwhelmed and punished this city in recent days, was backing off from its merciless work Sunday. Apparently satisfied that enough is enough, sort of, and having pushed citizens of this city far beyond any other watery test in history, the long-awaited crest was believed to have passed through Minot during the early hours Sunday.

By late Sunday afternoon Minot Mayor Curt Zimbelman was confident enough to say "we believe the crest has passed." Zimbelman was referring to a river peak of 1,561.72 feet, nearly four feet higher than the city's all-time mark of 1,558 feet set in 1881 and nearly six and one-half feet over the fearful flood of 1969. The Souris reading at Minot's Broadway Bridge was 1,561.5 feet late Sunday afternoon and was forecast by the National Weather Service to continue dropping.

Therein lies a problem, however. The river has no intention of running out of town nearly as fast as it arrived. Flows exceeding the all-time record can be expected at least into next weekend. Still, any decline was worthy of notice by beleagured citizens weary of worrying about their vacated homes and wondering when they might be given the okay to return.

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers provided some insight into that timetable Sunday, saying that flows out of Lake Darling Dam had been reduced from 24,000 to 23,000 cubic feet per second Sunday. Further decreases of 1,000 to 2,000 cfs per day can be expected over the next 14 days.

The Souris at Sherwood was flowing at slightly less than 20,000 cfs Sunday, still a remarkably high flow by historic standards but a lower number nevertheless. The elevation of Lake Darling was just under 1,601 feet late Sunday with indications that a decline was underway. Peak elevation there is 1,601.8 feet.

In the days ahead, while the water remains well over flood stage and a continuing threat to the city, all effort will be required to maintain and protect the integrity of dikes protecting infrastructure and at least one neighborhood within Minot. A large portion of northeast Minot remains remarkably dry, courtesy of a massive dike built primary along Fourth Avenue for the purpose of keeping any flood waters from inundating North Broadway.

While extreme vigilance will be required in Minot in the coming days, the main burden of the river's powerful swing through the state now descends on points downstream - Logan, Sawyer and Velva among them. Unwilling to say goodbye without coiling to strike a few additional communities, the Souris Sunday remained almost two feet lower than what it was expected to reach at Velva sometime today.

When the waters of the Souris finally do leave the state, the river will have left behind a record breaking performance the likes of which, seemingly, cannot be equaled. Some say it was the work of Mother Nature. Others point to the fact that it was stored water that roared down the Souris, picking off one town at a time. Most agree that, at the very least, historic changes in reservoir operation and flood protection are sure to result.

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