First timer? In this formerly once-a-day blog (and now pretty much an every-third-day blog), I have my computer select a random latitude and longitude that puts me somewhere in the continental United States (the lower 48). I call this “landing.” I keep track of the watersheds I land in, as well as the town I land near. I do some internet research to hopefully find something of interest about my landing location. To find out more about A Landing A Day (like who “Dan” is and what the various numbers and abbreviations mean in the first paragraph), please see “About Landing,” (and “Abbreviations” and “Cryptic Numbers”) above.
Landing number 2008; A Landing A Day post number 426.
Dan – Here we go. After six USers, here’s three OSers in a row with this landing in . . . ND; 58/46; 6/10; 8; 153.0. Here’s my regional landing map:
And here’s my closer-in landing map, showing my proximity to Grand Forks and the Red River:
My Google Earth (GE) shot shows a very tidy agricultural scene:
Moving out a little, and son-of-a-gun if I’m not right next to a large (2.5 mile-long) runway, part of the North Forks Air Force Base:
Strange, but I can see no airplanes at the base. I read that operations were fairly recently scaled back at the base, but no planes at all??
Anyway, you can see a stream meandering its way across the landscape just north of my landing. That’s the Turtle River (4th hit); on (of course) to the Red (44th hit); on to the Nelson (62nd hit); on to the Hudson Bay. The Nelson is in 9th place on my list of most-common Rivers (with little hope of catching number 8 on my list, the Snake, with 71 hits).
While perusing GE, I couldn’t help but notice some linear features cutting through all of the farm fields (trending NW – SE) just west of my landing:
I immediately expected that these were geologic features of some sort; further, that they had to do with the glaciers. Well, it didn’t take much research to stumble on the fact that Glacial Lake Agassiz was in the neighborhood just 10 or so thousand years ago. Here’s a map of the lake, followed by an excerpt from Wiki:
Lake Agassiz was an immense glacial lake located in the middle of the northern part of North America. Fed by glacial meltwater at the end of the last glacial period, its area was larger than all of the modern Great Lakes combined, and at times it held more freshwater than is contained by all lakes in the world today.
Wow. Impressive, eh? Back to Wiki:
Just a quick note on Louis Agassiz – He was a 19th-century Swiss geologist (who ended up at Harvard). He was the first person to figure out that glaciers were much more extensive in the past than now, and that there is extensive (and irrefutable) evidence of this glaciation all over the northern latitudes.
So, a quick look at the map of the lake, and it looked to me like it was possible that the lines I could see on the GE shot might be shoreline features. As is my wont, I scouted around the internet looking for a good reference, and bingo! I found a ND Geological Survey Report entitled “Geology and Ground Water Resources of Grand Forks County.” Here’s a map from that report (see Arvilla west of Grand Forks? I landed just NE of there):
No doubt about it – those linear features represent ancient Lake Agassiz shorelines! The 2013 edition of A Landing A Day has turned into a grand tour of glacial lakes: First, Mauston WI, featuring Glacial Lake Wisconsin; then Missoula MT, featuring Glacial Lake Missoula; and now, Glacial Lake Agassiz. Very cool, indeed.
Now, turning my attention to Grand Forks. First, about the name. The City is at the confluence (or “forks”) of the Red River and the Red Lake River (9 hits), which flows in from Minnesota to the east. Here’s a GE shot showing the forks right near downtown:
So, at this time of year, I suspect that the good folks of Grand Forks are worried about flooding, since year in, year out, springtime flooding along the Red River is a threat.
Well, well, well. What I suspected is fortunately not the case! After typing the above sentence, I went on line, and check out what I found, from ValleyNewsLive.com (serving Greater Fargo & Grand Forks):
Major Floods Now a Breeze for Greater Grand Forks
Posted March 26, 2013
Fargo is gearing up for a flood fight that will likely cost millions of dollars and require thousands of volunteers. Meanwhile, despite the forecast for major flood levels in the northern valley, city crews alone are handling everything that needs to be done in Greater Grand Forks.
Following the Grand Forks flood and fire of 1997, the political climate was right to relatively quickly secure funding for a 410-million dollar flood protection project.
So now, even with a major flood forecast, a system of flood walls and levees takes most of the work and worry out of high water here in Greater Grand Forks. A single city crew can install the barriers in this flood wall within 8 hours, while Fargo is planning a flood fight with thousands of volunteers.
Kevin Dean, City of Grand Forks: “We fought this year after year after year. Then in 97 we had the catastrophe and realized we had to do something on a permanent basis.”
Right now, city crews aren’t really concerned with the river. They’re scraping the snow and ice from street drains to make sure they can get rid of the water in town, once the melt begins. The water runs through drains to pumping stations all over town that pump it over the levees into the river.
Mark Aubol, GF Street Department: “Nobody notices what goes on too much as they did years ago, when we were dragging pumps all over and blocking roads with hoses. It’s a whole different animal now.”
So when the high water comes, most folks in Greater Grand Forks won’t even realize a flood is underway, except for the possibility of a bridge or two being temporarily closed.
How about that! Good for Grand Forks. Here are a couple of shots of the 1997 flood in Grand Forks, from the University of Montana website:
Even though Grand Forks has done some serious engineering to deal with the flooding, the Red River Valley as a whole remains extremely flood prone. This issue was addressed most ably by yours truly in my Doran Minnesota post. In that post is very cool (if I don’t say so myself) discussion of why the Red River floods, along with an interesting tale of two water molecules who start out side by in the Little Minnesota River, but one ends up in Hudson Bay and one ends up in Gulf of Mexico. For some fascinating reading, click HERE.
I’ll close with this lovely shot of the Turtle River, just north of my landing (Panoramio by OMDahl):
That’ll do it.
© 2013 A Landing A Day