Meanwhile back in my hometown of Jamestown, ND, they’re getting ready for more flooding, as the two reservoirs north of town fill to records.
Now, Jamestown is built at the confluence of the James River – the world’s longest non-commercially-navigable river – and Pipestem Creek. Both rivers drain a huge basin in central North Dakota (and South Dakota as well) into the Missouri River. Given their huge watershed, both rivers are fairly sensitive to fluctuations in water supply; in the eighties, during a very dry period, the James barely flowed. On other other hand, before the James was dammed up in the ’50s, a wet season could leave Jamestown half-submerged. (The Pipestem also flooded, in 1969, leading to another dam in the seventies). So in theory, Jamestown should be flood-proof – unless it’s been a very wet winter and both reservoirs are nearly full.
Suffice to say it’s been a very wet winter:
Jamestown and Stutsman County should prepare for the same combined releases as they did during the 2009 floods, according to the Army Corps of Engineers, which changed its forecast for the James River and Pipestem Creek Friday.
The corps’ had originally estimated releases of 1,800 cubic feet per second. The new forecast recommends building emergency levees to handle combined releases of 3,200 cfs from Jamestown and Pipestem reser-voirs — the same level the two dams released at the peaks of the 2009 flood.
1,800 to 3,200 cubic feet per second. Bear in mind the usual combined release from both dams is about 30 cfs.
According to the corps, the 0.5 to 1.5 inches of precipitation received in the James River Basin this week changed the situation and now reservoir pool levels could exceed 1997 levels, according to the “most likely” forecasts. The upper range of forecasts indicate reservoir pool levels could reach the same levels as in 2009, said Col. Robert J. Ruch, Omaha district commander for the corps.
It’s going to be another flood-prone year throughout the upper Midwest.