Hey Man, Did You See That?

They call it the Souris in Canada, the Mouse in North Dakota, and it’s having the biggest flood in recorded history this Spring and Summer. A couple of weeks ago, the city of Minot seemed to have been spared because of heroic efforts to add clay to the top of the dikes that line the river. With 4-6 inches of rain falling earlier this week in Saskatchewan, and heading down the river, the dams that protect Minot are all full and releasing tremendous amounts of water.

“What’s happening here,” explained [Weather Service hydrologist] Schlag, “is that the Souris has finally gone so far out of its banks that we are seeing significant flow short-circuiting the normal meandering course of the river. It is now wall-to-wall throughout the valley and is traveling in a straight line.”

Over one-quarter of Minot’s 41,000 residents have now been evacuated, and all they can do now is watch their houses fill up with water.

When you hear “North Dakota flood”, you might think about Fargo and the Red River valley, which floods regularly. This is a different place — Minot had a major flood in 1969 and built a series of levees that protected the city for more than 40 years. This is the first flood since then, and the river is 8 feet higher than any level recorded in 130 years. To put the recent 4-6 inch rainfall in perspective, that part of the country normally gets 15-18 inches of rain per year.

Reader Robert, who lives in the area, sent some good links to area resources. The Minot Red Cross is taking donations here. The KX network station in Minot is broadcasting around the clock and has many of its viewers sending updates to its Facebook page. Robert is OK, and I have family members who evacuated on Wednesday, and they’re OK, too, so thankfully this is just about people losing property, not lives.

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65 replies
  1. 1
  2. 2
    DBrown says:

    Am very sorry for all those people who don’t have flood insurance – what a nightmare. Hope this IS the one hundred year flood and that they don’t see anything close to this again … I hope. The odds are looking not so good, now.

  3. 3
    MikeJ says:

    I wonder if the nukes at the AFB are underwater yet.

  4. 4
    lol says:

    And they want us to think Global Warming is happening. pshaw.

  5. 5
    Paul M says:

    Terrible story but quality thread title.

  6. 6
    alwhite says:

    @4 lol – but it snowed last winter so we know global warming is a lie!

  7. 7
    Villago Delenda Est says:

    Meanwhile, the governor of Texas is urging us all to pray for it to rain in that state.

    There is no global climate change.

    BTW, I’m old enough to remember the 1969 flood being covered nationally…it’s the only reason I’d ever heard of Minot before this post. It was a huge deal then.

  8. 8
    alwhite says:

    BTW – I LOVE that I am seeing a banner ad for Glen Beck at the top of the page. Talk about a misdirected placement! Hope you get a bundle for cash from the mental leper though.

  9. 9
    D. Mason says:

    Damn what a bad year for disasters… I hope the folks in the area are able to evacuate safely.

  10. 10
    cathyx says:

    @8 alwhite-
    That must mean John Cole is a sellout to the right.

  11. 11
    imonlylurking says:

    It’s truly going to be horrific. NOAA installed a flood gauge specifically for this incident (they saw it coming, way back in March) and the trend in river height is absolutely appalling.

    I’ve been doing a series of liveblogs over at GOS. Yeah they get meta and Firebaggy a lot, but it truly is the best place to blog about a disaster.

    For some perspective-go to cnn. There is an article about the flood with a picture of a house under several feet of water.

    They’re expecting FIVE MORE FEET of water.

  12. 12
    Lee says:


    Would you happen to have a link to something about NOAA installing that flood gauge? I think NOAA is one of the most under appreciated departments in our government. I would love to post it on Facebook.


  13. 13
    Violet says:

    So sad for the people there, but at least they had quite a bit of time to prepare. By disaster standards, anyway.

    The actor Josh Duhamel is from Minot and is bringing more attention to the disaster than it might get otherwise. A celebrity connection means shows like Extra! and Entertainment Tonight do little bits on it too. When he’s interviewed he mentions donating to the Red Cross in the area.

  14. 14
  15. 15
    imonlylurking says:

    Ah! I forgot the link limit-I have 4 links to track various things and I put them all in one post.

    Here are the first two-both from NOAA:

    Souris River height tracking at NOAA
    Interesting NOAA map showing topology and other communities in ND under threat

  16. 16
    imonlylurking says:

    Two more-Lake Darling information and an expected inundation map:
    USGS Lake Darling Flood Monitor Page
    Inundation maps-large file! loads slowly!

    I’ve got a link to ND DOT showing road closure information too, if you want that.

  17. 17
    Lee says:

    thanks for the links. NOAA is great.

    How can I tell from the graph when it was installed? I could not find the historical data.


  18. 18
    catclub says:

    alwite @ 6 “but it snowed last winter so we know global warming is a lie.”

    lol also, never mind that Siberia was thirty degrees above average – all that matters is the US east coast.

  19. 19
    imonlylurking says:

    I couldn’t find anything on the installation date, either. NOAA’s spring forecast was released in May-it could have been that early.

    weather.com has a page devoted to Minot with a very active ticker -people are posting real-time which areas are flooding. Supposedly water is up to the rooftops in some areas of Burlington-they’re posting pics on yfrog, which I can’t access at work.

  20. 20
    catclub says:

    imonlylurking @ 11 ” It’s truly going to be horrific.”

    Ahem. Katrina.

    “Of the estimated 143,000 single-family (1 to 4 unit) residential structures in Orleans
    Parish, almost 95,000 suffered some degree of flood damage. On the East Bank of the
    city, roughly two-thirds of the single-family structures suffered flood damage equal to
    25 percent of more of their pre-Katrina structure values.”

    Plus a thousand or so people died in New Orleans.

  21. 21

    I have a buddy stationed at Minot. Haven’t heard from him in a few days but I imagine he’s okay, even if his home isn’t. This is one of those events that’s going to literally reshape a city.

  22. 22
    Lee says:


    Just because it is not the magnitude of Katrina means it can’t be horrific? You might want to ask the people of Joplin & Minot about that.

  23. 23
    patrick says:

    My sister and I were born there when my dad was stationed at the missile base.

  24. 24
    catclub says:

    Lee @ 21

    If they wrote, “It’s truly going to be horrific.
    We expect no deaths or injuries due to the inundation, since we knew this was coming since March and have made as many preparations and evacuations as necessary.”

    One might question the use of the word horrific.

  25. 25
    Lee says:

    Why question it?

    There is no scale requirement to be horrific. A single murder can be accurately described as horrific.

  26. 26
    Tom says:

    @lee #12

    Seconded. Every time someone says ‘the govmint can’t do anything right’, hit them over the head with the links to NOAA and the USGS

  27. 27
    stuckinred says:

    what a stupid argument

  28. 28
    LittlePig says:

    Mike @3 I wonder if the nukes at the AFB are underwater yet.

    I was wondering the same thing. Being a child of the Cold War, I really can’t remember a time I didn’t know about the AFB there.

    KX Weather just said AFB personnel are picking up the trash – I guess the regular city service is underwater.

  29. 29
    LittlePig says:

    KX says river is still rising – up a third of an inch in the last hour.

    Water volume coming up on double the 1969 flood.

  30. 30
    burnspbesq says:

    Where does this water go next? The only map I’ve seen shows the Souris draining into the Assiniboine, which means Winnipeg is going to get hit, but does it eventually get into the Mississippi?

  31. 31
    LittlePig says:

    I got that wrong…it was a third of a FOOT, not an inch. Level is expected to rise at least two more feet.

  32. 32
    PeakVT says:

    Here’s some detailed flood maps of Minot and the surrounding county.

    @burnspbesq – no, it eventually ends up in the Arctic.

    ETA: I’m curious to see what the people of Minot do next. Will they rebuild the portion of the city in the flood plain or move it to higher ground?

  33. 33
    LittlePig says:


    I would have thought it ended up in the Mississippi, but it goes north to Lake Winnipeg.

  34. 34
  35. 35
    LittlePig says:

    I’ve been watching the KX link (http://www.ustream.tv/channel/kxmcweathercenter) Robert reported, and it’s pretty amazing. I’m surprised at the number of cams they have around town.

  36. 36
    Tata says:

    My son-in-law is filling sandbags and my daughter and her friends are cranking out food for the volunteers. It’s a slow-moving emergency on an epic scale. The Red Cross is taking donations; so are Habitat for Humanity (their offices are currently under water) and the Salvation Army.

    Though the Weather Channel mentioned this yesterday, the reporting made it look like someone left a garden hose open at the end of a cul-de-sac.

  37. 37
    Martin says:

    Hydrological divides in North America.

    This is near the Laurentian divide, south goes to the Gulf or St. Lawrence River, north goes to Hudson Bay.

  38. 38
    nodakfarmboy says:

    @imonlylurking: Actually, NOAA and the USGS have flood gauges all over the Souris river, and have for decades. You can access a page listing all of them.


    This is a terrible disaster. And it’s just another in a string for the state of North Dakota. I live in Grand Forks, and every day I park next to the dike that protects us from the Red River. In 1997, we lost Grand Forks to that River’s record flood. 90% of the city had to evacuate. We almost lost Fargo, too. Since then, we’ve had two close calls with Fargo (2009 and this year), Devils Lake (pop. 7500)has been forced to build Dutch-style dikes to protect it from going under the rising waters of it’s namesake lake, Valley City (pop 7000) has been to the brink twice in the past several years, and Bismarck is currently dealing with a major flood disaster on the Missouri River. With Minot being hit this year, all four of the state’s “major cities” have now been hit hard in the past 15 years.

    It’s getting a bit old. And another piece of bad news for Minot is the current federal political situation. Following the 1997 disaster, Grand Forks received considerable federal support to build a state-of-the-art flood protection system, and additional aid to help the people of the city get back on their feet. Bill Clinton and our all-Democratic congressional delegation worked tirelessly to help push through a relief bill. Minot (and Bismarck) however, will get to face our new tea-party overlords when they approach DC looking for relief aid.

    It will probably not be a pretty situation. Elections have consequences, sometimes unfortunate. Here’s hoping that the people of Minot will get the support they need.

  39. 39
    LittlePig says:


    That’s seriously cool. I didn’t realize the Northern Divide came down that far.

  40. 40
    Stefan says:

    There is no scale requirement to be horrific. A single murder can be accurately described as horrific.

    OK, I agree this is getting a little stupid, but there is a bit of a scale requirement when it comes to natural disasters. If you read something like “a horrific earthquake which destroyed one house in the state and killed the person inside” or “the city was devastated after a horrific tornado severely damaged one mobile home” you might think the reporter was using a bit of hyperbole.

  41. 41
    Stefan says:

    It’s a slow-moving emergency on an epic scale.

    They’re screwed, then. We only really respond to immediate and dramatic emergencies. Slow-moving ones, not so much.

  42. 42
    Martin says:

    I didn’t realize the Northern Divide came down that far.

    Yeah, that’s why there are so many lakes in MN – there’s really nowhere for the water to go – no water flow to form rivers, carve out the land, capture it and take it away. So it just sits there.

  43. 43
    Martin says:

    OT: American exceptionalism, bitches!

    French engineering giant Alstom has signed a preliminary deal to build a high-speed rail line linking Basra and Baghdad in Iraq.

    America, more infrastructure deprived than a country we bombed the shit out of just a few years ago.

  44. 44
    imonlylurking says:

    Hi everyone,

    Thanks for all the comments and links. Today has been pretty busy at work so I’ve not been able to post much. NOAA is predicting a sharp increase in water flow starting right about now.

  45. 45
    Jane2 says:

    I live 240 miles northwest of Minot, and it’s insane this year. I’ve seen flooding from spring runoff (like in late April this year), but never this much this late. The main highway is closed from about 30 miles south of me into ND…never seen that before.

    And comments re slow-moving emergencies are dead on. This has been building since early spring, and there’s been very little news coverage until the past few days. I’m happy to say that the provincial government is paying the wages of civil servants who volunteer to go help in Weyburn and arranging transportation for them….at least it’s something. Finally.

    Thanks to a better safety net, affected Saskatchewan residents will fare better than their American neighbours. I hope the US federal government comes through for those folks.

  46. 46
    tamied says:

    Martin @42 And we probably paid for it.

  47. 47
    Stefan says:

    Thanks to a better safety net, affected Saskatchewan residents will fare better than their American neighbours. I hope the US federal government comes through for those folks.

    Ahahahahaha! Hahahahahahaha!

    Thanks, I needed a good laugh today.

  48. 48
  49. 49
    Martin says:

    I hope the US federal government comes through for those folks.

    Even better, the free market will save them!

  50. 50
    Brandon says:

    OT, but here is an example of more glibertarian fail. Turns out that a flat actually hurts the economy because its regressive effects reduce consumption by the Takers who actually, you know, spend money. And it turns out, when you give the Makers more money, they prefer to just keep it. Hoocoodanode?

  51. 51
    MikeJ says:

    PeakVT @47: LOL! Everybody knows high temps in other countries have nothing to do with teh US! American exceptionalism!

  52. 52
    Martin says:

    New meme: If climate change is manmade, what about 1816? Huh, fat guy?

  53. 53
    PeakVT says:

    @MikeJ – yes, yes, I know. I posted it merely to trick libruls into filling their heads with more meaningless facts. Like this one: For example, the average position of the jet stream retreated poleward 270 miles (435 km) during a 22-year period ending in 2001, in line with predictions from climate models. That Masters guy is crafty.

  54. 54
    justawriter says:

    The current cycle of floods in the state started in 1993 in the Devils Lake Basin. My tiny hometown of Edmore was one of those flooded that year. Since then there has been been a federal disaster designation someplace in North Dakota each and every year. Last year I believe 51 of the state’s 53 counties were included in disaster designations. Yes, it is getting old.

  55. 55
    wrb says:

    Well, maybe civilization will blossom in the Dakotas with pyramids and stuff.

    They’ve already got giant stone heads

  56. 56
    Martin says:

    This is why I think Obama is going to cruise in 2012:

    A plurality of Florida voters say they are less inclined to support a Republican presidential candidate in 2012 because of the way their freshman GOP governor has acted since taking office, according to a PPP poll to be released Friday morning.

    The new teatard governors are mostly all in swing states, and they’re poisoning the well by being so fucking bad. People react to local problems and extrapolate from there. If Republicans are fucking up the works locally, voters assume they won’t be able to do better nationally. If Obama wins WI, IN, OH, FL, PA, the GOP has no hope to win.

  57. 57
    Steeplejack says:


    The Air Force base is 15 miles north of town and about five miles from the river, if I remember correctly. The river runs through downtown Minot. (My family was stationed there when I was in college.)

  58. 58
    nodakfarmboy says:


    I grew up a little ways south of Edmore, west of Lawton. It’s a small (internet) world.

  59. 59
    justawriter says:

    Small world, smaller state.
    I don’t get surprised at bumping into North Dakotans any more. Back in the 80s I saw some stats that there were twice as many people who were born in North Dakota or whose parents were born in North Dakota living outside the state that there were actually living in North Dakota.

  60. 60
    gocart mozart says:

    That’s quicksand, that’s quicksand that ain’t mud.

  61. 61
    Mont D. Law says:

    My mum was raised in Souris Manitoba on the Souris river. According to her the river starts in Sask. drops into ND and then comes back into Canada thru Souris which is SW of Winnipeg and eventually runs into the Assiniboine River she thinks west of Brandon. Souris will likely be okay because the river valley the river runs through is very deep and the town is built on the hills around the valley. According to my 80 year old mother “Only a couple of stupid Doctors live by the river.”

  62. 62
    Tom says:


    As mentioned elsewhere, the Laurentian divide zigzags along the 49th parallel, so the water in the Souris will eventually end up in Hudson’s Bay, via Winnipeg.

    Historical note: In the early part of the 19th century, the Laurentian divide was the de facto boundary between British (The Selkirk Concession) and American (The Louisiana Purchase) possessions west of the Great Lakes. It wasn’t until 1818 that the 49th parallel was set as the border, at which time there was a land swap. Britain ceded territory that years later became part of North Dakota and Minnesota, and the US ceded territory that years later became part of Saskatchewan and Alberta


  63. 63
    Tonal Crow says:

    For those interested in what’s probably coming if we don’t get to work on climate change yesterday, try Four degrees and beyond: the potential for a global temperature increase of four degrees and its implications. BTW, 4 degrees C is about 2/3 of the difference between the depths of a typical ice age and the heights of the warm period (“interglacial”) afterward.

  64. 64
    wrb says:

    I bet that scientists’ insistence on issuing their warming projections in Celsius has something to do with Americans’ lack of concern. They hear “four degrees” and imagine what a change of four degrees Farenheight would feel like and go “so what?”

    7.2 degrees would be more troubling: that is enough of a difference to make a person uncomfortable

  65. 65
    Tonal Crow says:


    I bet that scientists’ insistence on issuing their warming projections in Celsius has something to do with Americans’ lack of concern. They hear “four degrees” and imagine what a change of four degrees Farenheight would feel like and go “so what?” 7.2 degrees would be more troubling: that is enough of a difference to make a person uncomfortable.

    I agree on the rhetoric, though obviously scientists use Celsius as a convention to avoid confusing each other. It’d be nice if the media did their job and converted Celsius into Fahrenheit for U.S. readers. It’d also be nice if they noted, as I did above, how projected global average temperature changes compare to the changes encountered during ice age cycles. I think it brings home the idea that the changes we’re driving are big. Really big.

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