Predicting the Red: Meet the Crew Who Helps the National Weather Service

The Red River is expected to exceed 35 feet on Monday

FARGO, N.D. — The National Weather Service expects the Red River in Fargo–Moorhead to crest at 35 feet by tomorrow morning.

KVRR’s Danielle Church introduces us to the team who helps the organization reach that prediction and how they’re able to do so in our “flood fight 2019 coverage.”

And they’re off!

This US Geological Survey Field crew is going from edge to edge of a section of the Red River in Fargo–Moorhead all to measure its flow.

“So if you can imagine a one–by–one cube, we measured 19,500 of those going past this point every second,” said Dan Thomas, hydrologist at the USGS in Grand Forks.

The purpose of the measurement is to understand the relationship between the flow of the stream and its river level.

“That relationship can change and it’s constantly changing during in a flooding situation. You have things like ice jams that break free or debris jams that occur and the National Weather Service uses that information we give them, the stream flow and the river level for their flood prediction models,” Thomas said.

That information is used to inform people in the area about what flooding conditions they can expect but that wouldn’t be possible without this handy dandy tool that sends sound signals into the water.

“This instrument is an ADCP or an acoustic doppler current profiler. “It listens for the return and the difference in frequency from when it sounds it out to the return. It gives it a velocity, or speed and direction of those water particles,” Thomas said.

But this crew doesn’t just stay in Fargo.

“We have eight stream gauges where we measure the flow on a regular basis constantly as well on the Red River itself between Wahpeton and the Canadian border,” Thomas said.

All this water from the Red River flows North.

But it’s getting flooded everywhere because more rivers are spilling into it.

The Sheyenne and Red River combine in Cass County and are causing overland flooding.

This is just a little bit of the flooding Harwood is seeing from the Sheyenne.

All the flooding is why in rain, sleet or shine, you can find this team making some measurements.

“Especially on days like today, I don’t mind being out here every day. I know that those flow measurements are important that the public really needs,” Thomas said.

Doing his part to keep us all informed and ready to beat any flood fight that comes our way.

The field crew will be back out on the Red River tomorrow.

The record level of the Red in Fargo–Moorhead was 40.8 feet in 2009.

Categories: Community, Flood Fight 2020, Local News, Minnesota News, North Dakota News