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Crookston Times - Crookston, MN
  • Devils Lake unlikely to exceed record elevation

  • The lake elevation dropped about 3 feet in 2012, partly because of a yearlong mini-drought and an expanded outlet system that moved about a foot of water to the Sheyenne River.
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  •  Devils Lake will probably not exceed its record elevation this year, the National Weather Service said Thursday.
    The new outlook indicates a 50-50 chance that the lake will exceed an elevation of 1,453.3 feet this year, and just a 10 percent chance that it will surpass the record 1,454.3 feet above sea level set in 2011, the Grand Forks Herald reported (http://bit.ly/132eRe3 ).
    "I guess it's a little better, but it's still a concern," said Jeff Frith, manager of the Devils Lake Basin Joint Water Resource Board. "We're still going to lose the acres, and we're still going to lose some roads."
    The lake elevation dropped about 3 feet in 2012, partly because of a yearlong mini-drought and an expanded outlet system that moved about a foot of water to the Sheyenne River.
    If the lake rises two feet, the basin will lose about 20,000 to 24,000 acres of farmland, most of which had been under water in 2011 but resurfaced in 2012.
    "The delayed thaw and increased soil infiltration are helping to a degree, but because Devils Lake is still a closed basin, some of that soil moisture will still work its way towards the lakes later in the spring," said Greg Gust, a NWS meteorologist in Grand Forks. "Hopefully, summer season plant growth and soil evaporation will help reduce that subsoil moisture flow."
    A study released this week by the North Dakota State University's Agricultural Economics Department estimated the economic loss to the basin's farm community at $198 million, including $52 million in personal income and $44 million in reduced retail trade activity. Some 267 jobs in the region would be lost in the region this year because of the flooding.
    Frith said no matter what happens this year, flooding problems will continue in the basin.
    "The bigger issue is what is going to happen next spring," he said. "We're likely to go into winter with high elevations and that could really hit us next year. We're so dependent on what Mother Nature brings us."

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