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Summer 2011

Reasons for re-occurring floods in the Red River Valley

Bobcat compact track loaders

Bobcat compact track loaders carry pallets of sandbags to position them for volunteers who helped homeowners prepare for spring flooding.

North Dakota and Minnesota residents, including some Bobcat employees, have been directly affected by the re-occurring floods in the Red River Valley area. 2011 marks the third consecutive year of severe flooding problems for anyone who lives in the Valley. Why does this continue to occur? Here are some common reasons.

  1. Water flow. The Red River flows north into Canada and eventually into Lake Winnipeg. When snow begins to melt in late winter and early spring, the warmer, southern areas of the Valley feed runoff into the Red River. It travels north and meets melting snow from cities like Fargo and Moorhead. The combination of all of the water can create problems, depending on the amount of snowmelt or rainfall during the thaw. The winter of 20102011 was the second snowiest in Fargo history with 75 inches.

    Bobcat compact track loaders

    A row of T650 loaders waits in preparation for sandbag distribution.

  2. Ice dams. In addition to runoff, freshly broken ice can create dams, especially when it gets caught under low bridges. The ice prevents the water flow north; water gradually builds and eventually causes flooding until the ice is cleared.

  3. Flat area. The Red River Valley is one of the flattest areas of land in the United States it is the floor of Glacial Lake Agassiz. When the Red River floods on the plain, there is little to stop it from spreading, causing widespread damage.

  4. Less slope. Areas north of Fargo, including the town of Drayton, have less gradient or slope. The lack of slope contributes to additional flooding and the region can quickly look like a lake when the water spreads.

Flooding in North Dakota and Minnesota

Flood waters overtake Fargo area ball fields and streets as snow melted in late March and early April.

You can find more information about the Red River Valley by visiting

Source: North Dakota State University, Department of Geosciences.

Bobcat compact track loaders

The rubber track undercarriage helps this Bobcat loader drive through mud to deliver sandbags to volunteers.