Dry But Wet

After a summer with the Red River in Fargo being above flood stage persistently, the past several weeks with the levels much lower has been a welcome sight.  Yet, by historical standards, the amount of water flowing through town is still extremely high.

For the past week, the Red River stage has consistently been just slightly above 16 feet.  Translated to cubic feet per second (cfs), approximately 2000 cfs is still flowing north as you read this.  The long-term median is only near 250 cfs.  So although the Red may look low in comparison to where we were, the amount of water in the river is still 8 times higher than normal for late September.

What this means is that even though the southern basin has been exceptionally dry in recent weeks, we are sadly still only one heavy rain event from the Red again reaching flood stage yet again.

The charts below are courtesy of gohydrology.org (I highly recommend reading this site).  Thanks for the graphics Robert!

3 Responses

  1. That’s a great graph! And you’re welcome — it’s definitely been fun collaborating. I’ve always said that hydrology is a “comparative” science. The continental rivers make more sense when you compare them to the peninsula, i.e., Florida, and vice versa. It helps us see the big picture and most of all keeps us tuned in. Someday I hope to see the river of the hydrograph I know so well! You’d think it would be reversed but that’s the modern world for you …

    1. Thanks Daryl, presumably that’s not a long list! My secret is incessant tinkering and an eye for the obvious … such as in this case coloring it red. I’m continually amazed how the river has meta-sized in recent years relative to the historic record. This graph is a classic example of the importance of the USGS’s long-term streamflow monitoring program and keeping those stations going.

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