Diking pause: Corps stops diking work after finding less moistureConstruction on dikes in Jamestown was halted Monday afternoon, according to Paul Johnston, chief public affairs officer for the Army Corps of Engineers. The move came after officials found the water equivalent of snowpack upstream of the Jamestown and Pipestem dams to be less than in earlier forecasts.
By: Keith Norman, The Jamestown Sun
Construction on dikes in Jamestown was halted Monday afternoon, according to Paul Johnston, chief public affairs officer for the Army Corps of Engineers.
The move came after officials found the water equivalent of snowpack upstream of the Jamestown and Pipestem dams to be less than in earlier forecasts.
Johnston said the two construction companies had been put on hold until Thursday while the corps reassesses the situation.
“Each company is between 30 and 40 percent complete,” Johnston said. “The work done so far will remain in place until the risk of heavy rain pushing reservoir levels to record levels has passed.”
Johnston credited the change in flood forecast to ideal weather for the past weeks.
“We’ve had the perfect melt,” he said. “No additional precipitation, mild daytime temperatures and nights below freezing. This has had a significant reduction in the volume of the runoff.”
That type of weather condition is likely to continue.
“The northern reaches of the James River could see a tenth or a quarter of an inch of precipitation in the next days,” said Harlan Wetzel, meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Bismarck. “We could see that type of weather pattern every third day or so for the next few days but there is nothing major for precipitation in the forecast.”
Wetzel said the 30-day climate forecast for North Dakota indicates normal precipitation and temperatures.
“There is normally about half an inch of precipitation in March,” he said. “This has been a very good melt.”
But there is still snow on the ground.
Records from the North Dakota State Hospital indicate an average of 2 inches of snow remaining on level ground in the Jamestown area with more accumulations around trees and in gulleys.
Johnston said the corps will continue increasing releases from the dams.
“Jamestown Dam releases are expected to climb another 100 cubic feet per second tomorrow (Tuesday),” he said. “The plan for the rest of the week is to increase combined releases by 100 to 200 cfs per day if downstream conditions permit.”
The corps is monitoring conditions at Ypsilanti, Adrian and Grand Rapids, where river levels are declining, and LaMoure, where the river may be cresting, Johnston said.
“The long-term release plan will depend on updated forecasts,” he said. “But the combined releases are expected to be at least 1,800 cfs.”
Earlier forecasts had warned that releases could be as high as 2009, when the dams released a combined 3,200 cfs at their peak.
Sun reporter Keith Norman can be reached at (701) 952-8452
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