Sponsored By
An organization or individual has paid for the creation of this work but did not approve or review it.

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

April 4, 1997: 'A very daunting situation'

A string of mild spring days that launched a snow-buried Red River Valley into melting mode began to take a sharp turn backward 10 years ago today. Rain was falling, and a powerhouse winter wallop was en route, elevating the urgency of a race to ...

A string of mild spring days that launched a snow-buried Red River Valley into melting mode began to take a sharp turn backward 10 years ago today.

Rain was falling, and a powerhouse winter wallop was en route, elevating the urgency of a race to somehow maintain control over potential record flooding.

"It's a very daunting situation," said federal Transportation Secretary Rodney Slater, touring flood-ravaged areas in North Dakota with Sen. Byron Dorgan. D-N.D. "It's as gripping and as dramatic as . . . it was expressed to me. . . ."

It was a Friday. The new flood forecast raised projected river crests in Fargo and at Wahpeton, N.D.-Breckenridge, Minn., by as much as a foot, but maintained a 49-foot crest estimate for Grand Forks. The forecast took into account up to an inch of rain falling on this day, but not the anticipated snowy aftermath. Crest projections very well could change, the National Weather Service cautioned.

West and north of Grand Forks, a forecast of rapidly deteriorating weather gained certainty. The potential eighth blizzard was a whopper - the most intense low-pressure system yet in a miserably prolonged, intense winter.

ADVERTISEMENT

Forecasters assured that temperatures would drop, and the dense fog and rain dominating the day would turn into freezing rain or snow by late night or the following day, followed by 25 to 35 mph winds. As much as a quarter-inch of ice was expected on surfaces roughly from Cooperstown, N.D., to Roseau, Minn. Heavy snow, as much as 10 inches in Fargo and Grand Forks, was possible.

Its river crest expected later in the month, Grand Forks nonetheless scrambled for volunteers. For a Riverside neighborhood sandbag project at Alpha Avenue, 20 morning volunteers swelled to 100 following a public plea. A hard late-afternoon rain softened that number. Temporary lighting still was moved to the area for late-night work, but volunteers were pulled that night for safety reasons as rain turned to ice.

Fierce front-line river battles elsewhere included the Red in Breckenridge, the Wild Rice in Ada, Minn., and the Goose in Hillsboro, N.D. Days of work in Mayville, N.D., and Minto, N.D., were keeping most of the Goose and Forest rivers at bay.

Power was restored to about 500 homes in the Portland, N.D., area after enormous ice chunks sheared power poles in Mayville the previous night.

And overland flooding continued to claim county and township roads; Norman County, Minn., alone already closed about 50. "We're just blocking them off," one worker said, "and hoping we don't run out of signs."

What To Read Next
Artificial intelligence can now act as an artist or a writer. Does that mean AI is ready to play doctor? Many institutions, including Mayo Clinic, believe that AI is ready to become a useful tool.
Josh Sipes was watching an in-flight movie when he became aware the flight crew were asking for help assisting a woman who was experiencing a medical problem.
Nonprofit hospitals are required to provide free or discounted care, also known as charity care; yet eligibility and application requirements vary across hospitals. Could you qualify? We found out.
Crisis pregnancy centers received almost $3 million in taxpayer funds in 2022. Soon, sharing only medically accurate information could be a prerequisite for funding.