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John Wheeler, Published April 19 2009

Weather Watch: Water that closed I-94 not associated with river system

High water has closed portions of North Dakota’s Interstate Highway System on several occasions during this spring’s flooding.

The most remarkable closing was on Interstate 94 between Jamestown and Bismarck this past Monday night. The road has since reopened, but several parts of that road remain covered in shallow water.

What is remarkable about this area of floodwaters is that it is not associated with any river system at all. The land between the James River and the Missouri is a region known as pothole country – a gently rolling prairie broken by prairie lakes, sloughs, and marshes. There is no flowage at all, so the water will remain high until it evaporates or is absorbed by the soil.

This anomalously wet weather pattern began in 1993 and has continued, more or less, for the last 16 years.


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