Red River of the North
|Red River of the North|
|Rivière Rouge / Rivière Rouge du Nord|
|Countries||United States, Canada|
|Regions||Minnesota, North Dakota, Manitoba|
|Part of||Nelson River basin|
|- left||Bois de Sioux River, Wild Rice River (North Dakota), Sheyenne River, Elm River[disambiguation needed], Turtle River, Pembina River, Assiniboine River|
|- right||Otter Tail River, Buffalo River, Wild Rice River (Minnesota), Red Lake River, Roseau River, Seine River (Manitoba)|
|Cities||Fargo, North Dakota, Grand Forks, North Dakota, Winnipeg, Manitoba, Selkirk, Manitoba|
|Source||Confluence of Bois de Sioux and Otter Tail Rivers|
|- location||Wahpeton, North Dakota|
|- elevation||948 ft (289 m)|
|- elevation||712 ft (217 m)|
|Length||550 mi (885 km)|
|Basin||111,004 sq mi (287,499 km2) |
|Discharge||for Lockport, Manitoba, 20 miles (32 km) above the mouth|
|- average||8,617 cu ft/s (244 m3/s)|
|- max||152,900 cu ft/s (4,330 m3/s)|
|- min||491 cu ft/s (14 m3/s)|
The Red River (French: Rivière rouge or Rivière Rouge du Nord, American English: Red River of the North) is a North American river. Originating at the confluence of the Bois de Sioux and Otter Tail rivers between the U.S. states of Minnesota and North Dakota, it flows northward through the Red River Valley, forming the border of Minnesota and North Dakota and continuing into Manitoba, Canada. It empties into Lake Winnipeg, whose waters join the Nelson River and ultimately flow into the Hudson Bay.
The Red River flows through several urban areas along its path, including those of Fargo-Moorhead and Grand Forks in the United States and Winnipeg in Canada. The Red is about 885 kilometres (550 mi) long, of which about 635 kilometres (395 mi) are in the United States and about 255 kilometres (158 mi) are in Canada. The river falls 70 metres (230 ft) on its trip to Lake Winnipeg where it spreads into the vast deltaic wetland known as Netley Marsh.
In the United States, the Red River is sometimes called the Red River of the North, to distinguish it from the Red River that is a tributary of the Atchafalaya River, and that forms part of the border between Texas and Oklahoma.
Long a highway for trade, the Red has been designated as a Canadian Heritage River.
The watershed of the Red River was part of Rupert's Land, the Hudson's Bay Company concession in north central North America. The Red was a key trade route for the company, and contributed to the settlement of British North America. The stream was used by fur traders, including the Métis people, and by the settlers of the Red River Colony, the primary settlement of which eventually became Winnipeg, Manitoba. The river gave its name to the Red River Trails, nineteenth-century oxcart trails which supported this trade and these settlements, and which led to further development of the region on both sides of the international border.
The Red River forms at Wahpeton, North Dakota and Breckenridge, Minnesota, passes through Fargo, North Dakota/Moorhead, Minnesota and Grand Forks, North Dakota/East Grand Forks, Minnesota, and then continues on to the province of Manitoba in Canada. Manitoba's capital — Winnipeg — is at the Red's confluence with the Assiniboine River, at a point commonly referred to as The Forks. Together with the Assiniboine, the Red River fully encloses the endorheic basin of Devils' Lake and Stump Lake.
The Red then flows further north before draining into Lake Winnipeg which is part of the Hudson Bay watershed through the Nelson River. The mouth of the Red River forms a freshwater river delta called the Netley-Libau Marsh. The Netley Marsh is west of the Red and the Libau Marsh is east to form a 26,000 hectare wetland.
Southern Manitoba has a comparatively long frost-free season, between 120 and 140 days in the Red River Valley.
The Red River flows across the flat lakebed of the ancient glacial Lake Agassiz, an enormous glacial lake created at the end of the Wisconsin glaciation from meltwaters of the Laurentide ice sheet. As this continental glacier decayed, its meltwaters formed the lake, and over thousands of years sediments precipitated to the bottom of the lakebed. These lacustrine soils are the parent soils of today's Red River Valley. The river itself is very young; it began only after Lake Agassiz drained, about 9,500 years ago.
The word "valley" is a misnomer. While the Red River drains the region, it did not create a valley wider than a few hundred feet, and the much-wider floodplain is the lakebed of the glacial lake. It is remarkably flat; from its origin near Breckenridge, Minnesota to the international border near Emerson, Manitoba, its gradient is only about 1:5000 (1 metre per 5 kilometres), or approximately 1 foot per mile. The river, slow and small in most seasons, does not have the energy to cut a gorge. Instead it meanders across the silty bottomlands in its progress north. In consequence, high water has nowhere to go, except to spread across the old lakebed in "overland flooding". Heavy snows or rains, on saturated or frozen soil, have caused a number of catastophic floods, which often are made worse by the fact that snowmelt starts in the warmer south, and waters flowing northward are often dammed or slowed by ice. These periodic floods have the effect of refilling, in part, the ancient lake.
Major floods in historic times include those of 1826, 1897, 1950, 1997, 2009, 2011, and many years in between have seen significant flooding. There have been many other floods in prehistoric times, of equal or greater size. These "paleofloods" are known from their effects on local landforms, and have been the subject of scholarly studies. Flooding has been such a concern for Winnipeg that it warranted the construction of the Red River Floodway. Grand Forks, North Dakota took a similar precaution after the flood of 1997, constructing a removable flood wall.
On May 8, 1950 the Red River reached its highest level at Winnipeg since 1861. Eight dikes protecting Winnipeg gave way and flooded much of the city, turning 600 square miles (1,554 km2) of farmland into an enormous lake. The city turned to the Canadian Army and the Red Cross for help, and nearly 70,000 people were evacuated from their homes and businesses. Four of eleven bridges in the city were destroyed, and damage was estimated at between $900 million and $1 billion.
As a result of the floods, a flood control project was started to ensure the same would never happen again. The Red River Floodway around Winnipeg was cause for some derision at the time, as it seemed massively overbuilt and was the then-largest earth-moving project in the world. The project was completed under-budget, and has been used for at least some flood control twenty times in the thirty-seven years from its completion to 2006. The Floodway has saved an estimated $10 billion (CAD) in flood damages.
In the spring of 1997 a major flood of the Red River caused $3.5 billion in damage and required temporary evacuation of towns and cities on both sides of the border. The flood crested at 24.5 feet (7.5 m) above datum at the James Avenue pumping station in Winnipeg making it the third highest flood at Winnipeg in recorded history only being surpassed by the floods of 1852, and 1826.
|Wikinews has related news: Fargo, North Dakota, prepares for record flooding|
In 2009 the Red River flooded in early spring. By Friday, March 27, the river at Fargo had reached the highest level in recorded history, and its discharge at that location was far in excess of normal flows. The water ended up cresting at the James Avenue pumping station in Winnipeg at 22.5 feet (6.9 m) above datum making it the fourth highest flood in recorded history.
Due to a wet summer in 2010 as well as an above average amount of snowfall in the Red River Valley, The Red River spilled its banks and Red River crested in Winnipeg at the James Avenue pumping station at 19.59 feet (5.97 m) above datum as the sixth highest flood levels in recorded history if flood protection such as the Portage Diversion and the Red River Floodway were not in place. As the Red River was not a major concern in 2011, all of the attention turned to the surprise major flood on the Assiniboine River. In May 2011, a Manitoba-wide state of emergency was declared in the wake of a 1 in 300 year flood on the Assiniboine River at Brandon.
Flow rates and flood potential
Below are the estimated, measured and calculated peak flow rates of the Red River at various locations of the top ten floods of the Red River Valley as measured at Winnipeg.
|Location||1826 Peak Flow (cfs)||1852 Peak Flow (cfs)||1997 Peak Flow (cfs)||2009 Peak Flow (cfs)||1861 Peak Flow (cfs)||2011 Peak Flow (cfs)||1950 Peak Flow (cfs)||1979 Peak Flow (cfs)||1996 Peak Flow (cfs)||2006 Peak Flow (cfs)|
|Grand Forks-East Grand Forks ||135,000||95,000||114,000||76,700||65,000||86,100||54,000||82,000||58,100||72,800|
- List of rivers of Manitoba
- List of longest rivers of Canada
- List of longest rivers of the United States (by main stem)
- List of rivers of the United States
- Red River, other rivers with the same name
- Atlas of Canada. "Rivers of Canada". Retrieved 2008-08-02.
- Red River of the North, Minnesota Department of Natural Resources
- Red River Map 3, Minnesota DNR; map shows the international border at river mile 155.
- Microsoft Encarta 2005. Retrieved on October 18, 2008.
- Schwert, Don (interviewed by Tom Crann), The geology of the Red River flood plain, Minnesota Public Radio, 25 March 2005. Taped interview.
- Meryhew, Richard (March 24, 2009). "Geology set the Red River on a course for flooding". Minneapolis Star-Tribune. p. 1.
- Puxley, Chinta (27 March 2009). "Manitoba flood forecasters say don't be alarmed by flooding in Dakota". Yahoo! News Canada.
- Major Historical Floods in the Red River Basin
- Paleofloods in the Red River Basin
- "Winnipeg Flood – 1950". SOS! Canadian Disasters: Water. Library and Archives Canada. 14 February 2006.
- "An Overview of 2009 Spring Flooding in Manitoba" (PDF). Province of Manitoba. August 2009.
- Gunderson, Dan; Robertson, Tom, and Nelson, Tim (2009-03-27). "Red River tops historic marker, undermines dike". Minnesota Public Radio. Retrieved 2009-03-27.
- Kolpack, Dave (March 28, 2009). "Red River valley gets good news in new flood forecast". Minnesota Public Radio. (AP)
- "Real-Time Water Data for Red River of the North at Fargo, ND". National Water Information System: Web Interface. United States Geological Survey. 27 March 2009.
- "The Red River reached an open water crest in Winnipeg at James Avenue yesterday at 19.59 feet". Manitoba Floods. 6 May 2011.
- "Evacuees wait to return home as Brandon faces one-in-300-year flood". CTV news. Retrieved 2012-09-03.
- "Title unknown". The Canadian Press. Retrieved 2012-09-03.[dead link]
- "Title unknown". CJOB 68. Retrieved 2012-09-03.[dead link]
- "Long Term Flood Solutions For the Red River Basin" (PDF). Red River Basin Commission. September 2011.
- "Long Term Flood Solutions For the Red River Basin Appendix B" (PDF). Red River Basin Commission. September 30, 2011.
- "Flood Fighting in Manitoba". Province of Manitoba. 2013.
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Red River of the North.|
- Flows and forecasts for the Red River.
- Geological Survey of Canada page describing the nature and history of Red River floods.
- Minnesota DNR Red River website
- U.S. Geological Survey Reports and Abstracts Related to the Red River of the North
- Water Quality in the Red River of the North
- Flood management in the Red River Basin
- Fish of the Red River–Red River Angler's Guide
- North Dakota State University's Fargo Flood website
- Steamboats on the Red Documentary produced by Prairie Public Television
- Red River stream gage map with touch-friendly interface