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Global Boiling: Fargo Sees Fourth ‘Ten-Year Flood’ In A Row

By Brad Johnson on March 17, 2010 at 12:05 pm

"Global Boiling: Fargo Sees Fourth ‘Ten-Year Flood’ In A Row"

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For the second year in a row, President Barack Obama has signed a federal disaster declaration for North Dakota due to record flooding of the Red River in a changing climate. “More than a third of the contiguous United States faces a high or above average flood risk this spring,” the National Weather Service reported yesterday. “We are looking at potentially historic flooding in some parts of the country this spring,” Jane Lubchenco, head of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, said. The Red River’s spring flood is coming three weeks earlier than average, after unprecedented warm weather “set records for both the earliest and longest spring melt in recorded history,” as a “10-day stretch of March never saw the mercury dip below freezing.” The 2009 flood set records for streamflow and river height. This year’s flood is coming more than a week earlier, having passed flood stage on Saturday:

STREAMFLOW: 11,600 cfs
Fargo Red River 2010 Streamflow

FLOOD HEIGHT: 30.74 ft
Fargo Red River 2010 Gage Height

This is the ninth “ten-year flood” of Fargo since 1989, with streamflow greater than 10,300 cfs. That is to say:

In the last twenty years, Red River floods expected to occur at Fargo only once every ten years have happened every two to three years. 2010 is the fourth year in a row with at least a “ten-year flood.” In the 90 years before 1990, there were only eight ten-year floods.

ANNUAL PEAK FLOW, RED RIVER OF THE NORTH AT FARGO, ND
Fargo Red River 2010 Peak Flow

The standard for a hundred-year flood of the Red River of the North at Fargo set by the Army Corps of Engineers in 2001 is 29,300 cfs, a discharge rate never yet recorded.

A key consequence of global warming predicted by climate scientists is an increase in overall precipitation as well as extreme precipitation events, leading to increased flooding. As President Obama said last year:

If you look at the flooding that’s going on right now in North Dakota, and you say to yourself, “If you see an increase of 2 degrees, what does that do, in terms of the situation there,” that indicates the degree to which we have to take this seriously.

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