Dear folks in the Red River Valley, please start preparing now.

This past winter in Minnesota, we have had a lot of snow. On top of that, we’ve had an almost record amount of below 0° F days. This weekend, the forecast is currently showing a high of 42° F on Sunday. Snow is gonna melt. I couldn’t be more excited. Except, every year, the folks in the Red River Valley seem to be unprepared for this eventuality.

For those unfamiliar with the Red River Valley, it’s a river that starts on Minnesota’s western border just north of where North Dakota and South Dakota meet. The river then runs north, as opposed to south, passing through Fargo, Grand Forks and Winnipeg. Now, imagine a very flat area. An area so flat that locals joke that an electric pole is the only tree you’ll see. And on this flat surface is a river that runs north towards a usually even colder area. This river is now fed by a lot of melting snow which doesn’t have many places to go due to permafrost and flatness. Then people have decided to live along this river.

The last 4 out of 5 years, this river has flooded. And while the Army Corps of Engineers just had their funding upped, it might be a bit too late for this year.

So, I’m asking, nay, pleading with the folks up there. Start sandbagging now. It’s going to happen this year. Yes, we typically like to wait until the last minute. I just don’t want to see a repeat from 1997.

I can’t understand why people are allowed to rebuild on a flood plain.

I thought most cities, after a flood and expensive cleanup, appropriated the land, paid out to the displaced, and converted the acquired land into green space/parks.

I mean they can appropriate for airport expansion/construction, rail lines, etc.

It’s surely cheaper than cleaning up after flooding every other year. Houses stop being destroyed, people stop dying, costs to city cease. And cities get green space, easily closed off from public access in the event of a flood.

My city is on a river, that’s how it was done here. Seems eminently self evident to me.

I shall miss their bright eyes and sweet smile.

I went to undergrad at North Dakota State University a couple of decades ago. The winter of 1988/1989 was much like the present one, with huge snowfalls and epic low temperatures persisting late into the season, followed by a sudden and dramatic warmup. Flood stage for the Red River as it came through Fargo was 17 feet; IIRC, that spring it crested at 37 feet. I expect this spring will be much the same.

Smart homeowners (the ones still living in the flood zone) will have already taken delivery of several yards of sand and hundreds of sandbags.

Because the land thaws from south to north, the upper reaches of the river will be melting before the lower. The result is that the still-frozen lower river often blocks the water from the upper river, and the floodplain is so vast that the blocked water turns into a lake fifty kilometres wide. For this reason, Winnipeg built the Floodway, which, in combination with a system of dikes, diverts excess water around the city. During the Floods of '98 it was almost overtopped, so they’ve been expanding it.

I’m glad that other places will be getting similar floodways.

That’s one nice thing about Detroit, even though we’ve had the same conditions and more so, we don’t have to worry about widespread flooding. We have one hell of an overflow pond.

According to the flood forecasters in the Manitoba government http://www.gov.mb.ca/flooding/ barring crazy-ass rain this spring, the chance of major flooding is pretty low. Quoting from the Detailed Summary of Flood Outlook.pdf found in the link above,

So, fingers crossed, spring doesn’t get super wet, we will be fine up here. As far as flooding is concerned, Winnipeg is surrounded by a recently expanded floodway, so the city is pretty much safe. It’s the towns and communities to the south and immediate north that get fucked over hard. Hopefully, they don’t get fucked over hard this year!

Winnipeg is a flood plain. :slight_smile:

Seriously, here on the prairies, the land is so flat that if the water rises above the banks, flooding can be widespread. In 2011, there was such a heavy melt that a town in Saskatchewan about 20 miles away from a river or creek got flooded. The water just kept spreading.

Which isn’t to say there are no effective anti-flooding measures for the Prairies. But the nature of the terrain means that just buying up flood land isn’t a realistic or affordable measure.

That’s why Manitoba built Duff’s Ditch (a/k/a the Flood way) to divert the water around Winnipeg.

For instance, Chez Piper is in a flood plain, for the Wascana Creek, right in Regina. There was a major flood in the early 70s which affected the area: at a guess, about 20 blocks of good residential housing. The cost to buy out all those home-owners, demolish the homes, and turn it into green space would have been staggering. It also would have torn the heart out of one of Regina’s nicest residential areas.

Instead, the city and province built a major dike on the north side of the creek, and expanded the existing green space south of the creek to act as the flood plain that would absorb the flood waters. That was a much cheaper approach than a buy-out, and seems to have worked.

Given that large swaths of the Midwest have seen record-setting snowfalls this winter, I’m wondering if flooding on the Mississippi is going to be particularly bad this year.

Since having posted earlier, I see we are slated for 10 - 14 cm of snowfall starting now till tomorrow afternoon. That works out to 4 - 6 inches. Ugh, going to be a messy commute for the next couple of days.