Upper Midwest Flooding
March-May, 1997

Image by: National Operational Hydrologic Remote Sensing Center
Northern Plains Flooding
March-May 1997

In early spring of 1997, the Northern Plains endured devastating floods. Towns along the Red River like Grand Forks, North Dakota were shut down due to flooding that completely paralyzed the city, leaving entire downtown areas underwater. Floodwater is shown here in white while unmelted snow is shaded red.

During the Fall of 1996, towns along the Red River received record amounts of rain. In the winter, a cold air outbreak froze the water before it could runoff, and the record rainfall was followed up by record amounts of snow. Snow continued to pile up during the long winter and once temperatures finally warmed up, the melting began. However, not only did the snow from the winter melt, but also the frozen rainwater from the previous Fall season. As it turned out, there was too much water for local streams and the Red River to handle, and consequently, the entire area flooded.

River levels rose to as much as 27 feet above flood stage! Large pieces of floating ice blocked the flow of the river, forcing it out of its banks and into nearby residences and businesses.

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Credits and Acknowledgments for WW2010.
Department of Atmospheric Sciences (DAS) at
the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.