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Fargo flooding next week, EB detour likely

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anir dendroica

OBS Chief
Joined
Jan 2, 2009
Messages
507
Spring is a month behind in the Upper Midwest, with more snow falling today into tomorrow. The Red River at Fargo is just starting to rise and is forecast to crest near record levels, sometime next week or the week after.

Unless the crest exceeds the record of 40.83 feet set in 2009 the Empire Builder should be able to cross the river, but the tracks between Fargo and Grand Forks will almost certainly be flooded for a time, forcing a bypass of Grand Forks, Devils Lake, and Rugby.

Mark
 

anir dendroica

OBS Chief
Joined
Jan 2, 2009
Messages
507
If the Red gets to above 30 feet at Fargo the train will not be running through.
The Red gets above 30 feet at Fargo almost every year.

In 2009, the year of the record crest (40.84 feet), the Empire Builder never stopped for the Fargo flooding. If I remember correctly it was disrupted for a few weeks later that spring due to flooding farther west near Minot and along the KO subdivision.

See this post from an old thread:

http://discuss.amtraktrains.com/index.php?/topic/26510-future-flooding-for-empire-builder/page-4&do=findComment&comment=156598

Here's what the Red River looks like at the BNSF crossing (the detour; the normal bridge is underwater at this point) at 40.8 feet:



More photos at this Flickr site (also source of above photo):

http://www.flickr.com/photos/gregness/3395343405/
 
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J

Joan

Guest
Oh my, I'm heading out to Minot May 2nd, from Wisconsin. I hope and pray the train can make it!!
 

atm79

Train Attendant
Joined
Sep 26, 2012
Messages
36
Location
Seattle, WA
Leaving from SEA on Tuesday headed to CHI. Looking at the latest news, they're forecasting the Red River to be at 37' by Wednesday and a crest of 38-40' by late week. Would this all but gaurantee a detour and if so, does the detour usually result in delays?
 

anir dendroica

OBS Chief
Joined
Jan 2, 2009
Messages
507
The detour begins when water rises over the tracks between Fargo and Grand Forks. I believe this happens at a stage of around 36-38 feet. Others may know more definitively; it also depends somewhat on the level of the Sheyenne River, a major tributary that meets the Red just north of Fargo.

In any case, the detour is essentially guaranteed at this point. The detour route is actually shorter and has better track conditions than the regular route. On the other hand, it has very heavy freight traffic with limited passing sidings, so any gains tend to be cancelled out. Overall I would expect running times to be about the same, though if there are slow orders from saturated soil conditions (as occurred in 2011) then we could see some long delays.
 

atm79

Train Attendant
Joined
Sep 26, 2012
Messages
36
Location
Seattle, WA
The detour begins when water rises over the tracks between Fargo and Grand Forks. I believe this happens at a stage of around 36-38 feet. Others may know more definitively; it also depends somewhat on the level of the Sheyenne River, a major tributary that meets the Red just north of Fargo.
In any case, the detour is essentially guaranteed at this point. The detour route is actually shorter and has better track conditions than the regular route. On the other hand, it has very heavy freight traffic with limited passing sidings, so any gains tend to be cancelled out. Overall I would expect running times to be about the same, though if there are slow orders from saturated soil conditions (as occurred in 2011) then we could see some long delays.
Great information - thank you! I will keep an eye out for anything official from Amtrak.
 

anir dendroica

OBS Chief
Joined
Jan 2, 2009
Messages
507
Any idea where the might river be at May 12, I scheduled to be on the Builder from MSP to SEA.
From http://nd.water.usgs.gov/floodtracking/charts/05054000.html



Current forecast has crest around 38 feet on May 2. You can track updated stages and forecasts here:

http://water.weather.gov/ahps2/hydrograph.php?wfo=fgf&gage=fgon8

If it is a "normal" snowmelt flood, with no rain events added on top, I would expect a drop of 3-5 feet per week after the crest. Still well above flood stage on May 12, in other words, though there is a chance the track to Grand Forks could be open again if there is no flood damage.

The image above should update dynamically as the river level rises.

Mark
 
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