WDAY: The News Leader

Published March 02, 2011, 08:41 AM

Red River flowing at historic levels

Fargo, ND (WDAY TV) - The hard data is sobering. Never, in a hundred years, has the Red River been flowing at the high rate we are witnessing right now. Summer rain storms are still haunting us. The average flow here at the Red is about 250 cubic feet per second. Right now we are looking at flows of about 1500 CFS and that's a problem.

By: Kevin Wallevand, WDAY

DARYL RITCHISON - WDAY Meteorologist: “The highest it has ever been since we have been keeping records.”

Here's the scientific data: The flow of the Red River. You can see what happened in the dry dust bowl years, the river barely crawled along. It was quiet for the most part in the 70's and 80's, but as the blue indicates, we are witnessing record flows of the Red right now.

“Why it is higher now than the past couple of winters really comes down to how much water is coming in from Otter Tail County.”

“Almost 7 inches of rain in Frazee, this is in Pelican Rapids here...”

Our Meteorologist tells us precipitation is up 25-percent since 1993. We just finished a doozy of a summer.

“Western corner of Otter Tail County up into Becker County just hammered with rain all day long.”

Rain by the sky loads fell in lakes country in June and July.

“Some parts of Otter Tail County had 40 inches or more of rain. That is unheard of in our climate.”

And all of that moisture that drenched lakes country continues to dump into the Red.

MICHAEL LUKES - Hydrologist-National Weather Service: “That is the highest in 108 years.”

Finally this USGS graphic released to us today. The river, here in black, should be in the green, normal. Instead, it is in the wow category, flowing at times off the chart. As we seem to set more and more records with our water and our river, hard data now points to the fact that we may likely have more weather and water for the history books.

These higher base flows of the Red mean we are starting the flood season with the river at record levels.