Chance of moderate flooding drops in areaThe chance of moderate flooding along the James River and Pipestem Creek is lower, according to a new forecast from the National Weather Service. The National Weather Service is fine-tuning its forecasts for flooding along the James River and Pipestem Creek as new information becomes available, according to Allen Schlag, hydrologist with the National Weather Service in Bismarck.
By: Keith Norman, The Jamestown Sun
The chance of moderate flooding along the James River and Pipestem Creek is lower, according to a new forecast from the National Weather Service.
The National Weather Service is fine-tuning its forecasts for flooding along the James River and Pipestem Creek as new information becomes available, according to Allen Schlag, hydrologist with the National Weather Service in Bismarck.
The process starts with the current snowpack conditions and factors in the possible weather conditions of the next few weeks.
“The change is due to a better refinement of the numbers rather than the weather for the past two weeks,” Schlag said. “We lost a little on the expectations of floods but the chances are still pretty doggone high.”
One of the major changes was at LaMoure where the chance of moderate flooding was reduced from 75 percent to 30 percent between the forecasts issued Feb. 15 and March 3.
“We shaved a little off the amount of runoff from Beaver Creek,” he said. “That lowered the chance of flooding at LaMoure.”
River levels of 16 feet or higher are considered moderate flooding along the James River at LaMoure.
The possibility of moderate flooding, 11 feet or higher, along Pipestem Creek at Pingree remains at about 50 percent in the two forecasts. The chance of major flooding, greater than 13 feet, went from 2 percent to zero in the latest forecast.
River levels in Jamestown are controlled by releases from the Jamestown and Pipestem dams which are controlled by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. Most recent estimates from the corps place the level of the James at Jamestown at or under the flood stage of 12 feet.
Schlag cautions the weather of the next few weeks will play a big part in the actual flood situation.
“In general we had as much water on the ground last year as in 2009,” Schlag said. “But in 2009 March was a real bear with 2 or 2 1/2 inches of rain. March 2010 we had a real gentle melt period.”
What March will bring this year is still unknown, although Schlag has concerns with the weather forecasts.
“The expectations are not good for the next couple of weeks,” he said. “We’ll be in an active weather pattern over the next weeks.”
Daryl Ritchison, Forum Communications Co. meteorologist, agrees at least partially with that statement.
“The reality is the pattern has been active all winter,” he said. “We don’t see the number of storms changing but North Dakota has been getting missed lately.”
The average precipitation for the Jamestown area in March is about 1 inch, Ritchison said. Even a single storm could meet or exceed that amount of moisture.
However, if the storms keep missing the region, even an active weather pattern won’t have much effect on flooding.
“You never know where these storms will go,” Ritchison said. “There will be storms the next two weeks. We have to just wait and see where they track.”
Sun reporter Keith Norman can be reached at (701) 952-8452 or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org