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Chance of flooding here low this spring

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The odds of flooding in the James River basin this spring are low, according to the hydrologic outlook issued by the National Weather Service in Bismarck Thursday.

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“It’s hard to anticipate problems unless we have significant early spring rains,” said Allen Schlag, hydrologist with the NWS. “There isn’t a lot of moisture on the ground. Well below what we’ve seen in the problem years.”

Snow water equivalents range from localized areas of about 2 inches to large areas of less than 1 inch in south central North Dakota, according to the NWS. In 2009, the water equivalent ranged from 4.5 inches to 5.5 inches across the area.

High levels of runoff in 2009 caused Jamestown Dam to reach its capacity on April 26, 2009, and required construction of extensive dikes through Jamestown.

The conditional simulation forecast for the James River at Grace City places the chance of any type of flooding at less than 5 percent. The James River at Grace City has a minor flood stage of 12 feet, moderate flood stage of 14 feet and major flood stage of 15 feet. The river is currently at 4 feet, according to the U.S. Geological Survey website.

Pipestem Creek at Pingree has a 6 percent chance of a minor flood stage of 11 feet and less than 5 percent chance of a moderate flood stage of 13 feet or major flood stage of 15 feet. The creek is currently at 4 feet according the NWS website.

The James River at LaMoure has a less than 5 percent chance of reaching either a minor flood stage of 14 feet, moderate flood stage of 16 feet or major flood stage of 18 feet. The river is currently at 7 feet, according to the U.S. Geological Survey website.

The conditional simulation forecasts use current conditions and project possible future conditions to predict the possibility of flooding. It takes into account that late February and March can bring a lot of snow to the area, Schlag said.

“Even if we got 15 inches of snow that is just one and a quarter to one and a half inches of water,” he said. “We would still be well below the problem years.”

The forecast doesn’t include a strong possibility of more snow.

“The current forecast is cold and dry as far out as they write forecasts,” he said.

Sun reporter Keith Norman can be reached at 701-952-8452 or by email at knorman@jamestownsun.com

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