Three’s not a charm!

The Red River has been running high for the last two decades.

But in particular the last springs have seen it surge high up its levees and reach far out into its floodplains. Enduring one hundred year flood every couple decades is bad enough, but lumping three of them in three consecutive springs …

That could be too much for a community to bear.

The Red River has touched up at historic flood levels the past two springs.
Will this spring make it three in a row?

What’s surprising to me is that 20 inches of annual “precipitation” could flood at all. Afterall, south Florida averages over forty inches in the summer alone, and over fifty for the year. Like the Everglades the Red River Basin is extraordinarily flat – “a piece of ply board propped up on one end by a sheet of paper” as regional meteorologist Daryl Ritchison explains it. Unlike the Everglades it does not have sun-searing evaporative losses (making that a “big 20 inches”). And unlike the Everglades they have snow …

And we all know what snow does come spring thaw.

By rain alone, it would appear the Red River would peak in late summer.
But the spring thaw is the big hydrologic event of the year, not summer rains.

It melts!

That sends liquid water all at once into the ice-clogged Red River not unlike the rush of fans flocking to see a Justin Bieber concert on undersized roads. Expect a major road delay on the second and a rapid rise of water on the river on the first. The Red has been running high all winter, but it’s not until March or April it usually peaks.

For the third spring in a row it looks like the levees will get a big test.

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