National Weather Service
National Weather Service United States Department of Commerce

Flooding in North Dakota

On this page you learn what types of flooding are typical in North Dakota and how do you protect yourself, your family and your home. You will also find out more about significant North Dakota floods. Finally, you'll find links to NWS offices that provide forecast and safety information for North Dakota as well as links to our partners who play a significant role in keeping you safe.

Flooding Navigation bar, hover for links Flood Safety Home Page Turn Around Don't Drown Interactive Flood Map Types of flodding and associated risks NWS flood products forecasts and observations (AHPS) flood safety education and outreach partner agencies National Water Center Downtown Grand Forks, North Dakota, during the Red River of the North flood on April 21, 1997. USGS Flood Safety Home Page Turn Around Don't Drown Flood Safety Awareness Week Interactive Flood Map Types of flodding and associated risks NWS flood products forecasts and observations (AHPS) education and outreach partner agencies

Significant North Dakota Floods
  • 1997 Red River Flood of Eastern North Dakota

    While not necessarily the widest spread flood, the 1997 event flooded roughly 85 percent of the city of Grand Forks, ND (pop. ~50,000), and significantly damaged East Grand Forks, MN. Fargo, ND, along with smaller North Dakota and Minnesota communities and rural areas along the Red River and its tributaries suffered significant damage as well. The impact of the flooding on Grand Forks was exacerbated by a fire which broke out during the high water, which burned a good portion of the downtown area. The damage inflicted to one of North Dakota's largest communities prompted a federal flood protection project for the cities of Grand Forks and East Grand Forks.

    Learn More:

  • 2011 Souris (Mouse) River Flooding of Minot and Rural North Central North Dakota

    The largest flood to affect the Minot area in well over 100 years saw roughly 25 percent of the community go under water and a near total isolation of the northern half of the. Burlington, Sawyer, and Logan are smaller communities along the Souris River that also suffered substantial damage. Widespread agricultural losses were also observed as crop and hay lands were inundated from mid-April through early July.

    Learn More:

  • 2011: Missouri River flood in North Dakota

    Clearly the largest flood along the Missouri River since the inception of the Pick/Sloan Program that built the 6 mainstem reservoirs. The greatest effects in North Dakota were felt in the capitol, Bismarck, with as many as 4,000 people displaced from their homes due to the high water. Mandan, located on the west side of the river from Bismarck was also substantially affected by the Missouri River flooding.

    Learn More:

  • 2009: Nearly Statewide Flooding

    This event was probably the most wide spread flooding during a single spring since statehood. The 2009 flooding along the Red River of the North saw significant national news coverage as Fargo braced for a record breaking flood. Fargo was narrowly spared what befell Grand Forks in 1997, however many other ND communities weren’t so fortunate. Valley City on the Sheyenne River, Jamestown on the James River, Linton on Beaver Creek, Beulah and Hazen on the Knife River, Mandan on the Heart River all suffered when water reached record, or near record flood levels. Rural losses were also high; roughly 80,000 head of livestock were lost due to high water. Several small dams were nearly lost due to erosion of the earthen dam from flood waters. An ice jam on the Missouri River near Bismarck/Mandan saw the state bring in an explosives team to detonate charges on the river.

    Learn More:

  • 1969 Souris (Mouse) River Flooding of Minot

    Caught largely unprepared for a high water event originating in Canada, the 1969 flood was the flood of memories prior to the 2011 event and continues to affect the area. Flood control features were built into the design of two new water supply dams in Canada and added to an existing U.S. Fish and Wildlife dam in North Dakota in response to the flood of 1969. Concurrently, major efforts were undertaken to improve channel capacity through Minot to prevent damage similar to that seen from this event.

    Learn More:

Flood Hazard Information
  • Flash Flooding

    Flash flooding is a rapid and extreme flow of high water into a normally dry area, or a rapid water level rise in a stream or creek above a predetermined flood level, beginning within six hours of the causative event (i.e., intense rainfall, dam failure, ice jam). More information...

  • River Flooding

    River flooding occurs when river levels rise and overflow their banks or the edges of their main channel and inundate areas that are normally dry. More information...
  • Dry Wash

    When heavy rain falls over extremely dry land, the water rushes towards low-lying areas, which may include dried up canyon or river beds. This can quickly turn a dry channel into a raging river.More information...
  • Ice/Debris Jams

    A back-up of water into surrounding areas can occur when a river or stream is blocked by a build-up of ice or other debris. Debris Jam: A back-up of water into surrounding areas can occur when a river or stream is blocked by a build-up of debris. More information...
  • Snowmelt

    Flooding due to snowmelt most often occurs in the spring when rapidly warming temperatures quickly melt the snow. The water runs off the already saturated ground into nearby streams and rivers, causing them to rapidly rise and, in some cases, overflow their banks.More information...
  • Dam Breaks/Levee Failure

    A break or failure can occur with little to no warning. Most often they are caused by water overtopping the structure, excessive seepage through the surrounding ground, or a structural failure. More information...
Protect Life and Property NWS Forecast Offices and River Forecast Centers (RFC) Covering North Dakota