Low-lying areas of Minot, North Dakota, are already submerged under several feet of water on Friday after the Souris River breached most of the flood levees and dikes in the city.
The Souris River is now predicted to crest on Saturday, days earlier than the previous estimation of Monday. More bad news is the river could rise several feet higher than expected because of greater release from Lake Darling Dam, jeopardizing the effectiveness of the main levee protecting the critical north-south thoroughfare.
“You hate to admit a defeat at anytime but as far as our permanent dike, it can’t [hold back] the kind of water that we’re going to see,” said Minot Mayor Curt Zimbelman, according to CTV Winnipeg.
About 11,000 residents have been evacuated and there is no new evacuation order. The flood is expected to damage thousands of homes.
The winding river that flows through Minot, the fourth largest city in North Dakota, had broken the historic 1969 flood level by more than two feet by Friday morning. It is on track to soon overcome the 1881 record of 1,558 feet.
Within this weekend, the U-shaped Souris River, which curves from Canada to North Dakota, is expected to rise another six feet.
Weeks of heavy rain swelled the Souris River Basin, which is dumping record-breaking water into Lake Darling, above Minot. U.S. Army Corps Engineers as of Friday morning were releasing 24,000 cubic feet per second from the dam. For comparison, the Souris River usually flows into the lake at around 135 cubic feet a second around this time of year, according to The Wall Street Journal.
The National Weather Service’s latest prediction is that the Souris will crest at 1,564.5 feet, beating the previous record by six feet.