"We were up in Grand Forks a few years ago. The town still wears the scars of that great flood. Seeing where the high water mark was noted, it was hard to imagine that much water coming into town."
In my yard, in my woods, on my roof (as I pen this), sits thousands of gallons of frozen water. Am I unique? Not a bit. I dare say every other person in the eastern Dakotas, Minnesota, Iowa and Wisconsin has the same issue. I know this might seem far fetched, but some day in the semi-near future, all that frozen water is going to change back into liquid water. When that happens, we might have to batten down the hatches, and some might have to fill sandbags.
If we assume the average snow depth all over Minnesota was 10 inches (most have much more than that), and that 10 inches contained the average amount of moisture, the total water content sitting on frozen ground right now in Minnesota is about 140 billion gallons. When that melts, some will go into the ground, some will go into rivers and streams, and some might overflow the river banks and cause flooding.
A local meteorologist on the news the other day said our snow pack is set up the same way it was in 1997 - the year of the great Grand Forks flood. That year was a mess of the highest order. The Red River spilled way out of its banks, onto the rich farmland of Minnesota and North Dakota. The town of Grand Forks was all but evacuated.
We were up in Grand Forks a few years ago. The town still wears the scars of that great flood. Seeing where the high water mark was noted, it was hard to imagine that much water coming into town. But it could happen again. With the right set of circumstances, 2019 could be the next great flood year.
I have said this many times before. It seems like such a shame that all that fresh water which gets into swollen rivers and streams, has a final destination - salt water. Once that water hits the ocean, the only way it can be reclaimed as fresh water is 1) wait until it evaporates and then falls back to Earth in the form of rainfall, or 2) pump it out of the ocean and desalinate it - very costly. Seems to me the smart money would be to capture some of that precious water before it hits the ocean.
Let's face it. We (as humans) do a lousy job of capturing excess rain or water from snow melt. If we could capture and divert some of it to areas of the country which are water starved year after year, that would be a huge win for everyone. If we could capture and store some of that water for irrigation in our "bread basket", the Ogallala Aquifer could last a bit longer. Right now, this huge aquifer's days are numbered. When the Ogallala is depleted, our nation's midsection will have some huge problems.
Stay tuned on this one folks. March will be the tale of the tape. Right now, it is predicted that the first part of March will be colder than normal (it is -11 as I write this on March 3rd). That means no slow melting of the snow pack. If we have normal or above precipitation in late March and April, with normal or above temps, that is when we could have some problems.
How serious could March flooding be on the Red River, the St. Croix or the Mississippi? As our favorite plumber always likes to say - "water always wins."