- Associated Press - Friday, January 30, 2015

MINOT, N.D. (AP) - A lack of snow in the Souris River Basin has officials optimistic as the spring flooding season nears.

The potential for flooding in the north central North Dakota region is normal to well below normal, according to the National Weather Service.

The three major reservoirs on the river in the U.S. and Canada also all have reached pre-spring levels stipulated in an international agreement governing management of the river, according to Upper Souris National Wildlife Refuge Manager Tom Pabian. That means there is plenty of available storage for snowmelt.

“We’re in a comfortable situation right now but … we still have a lot of winter left. Hopefully we won’t see those 3, 4, and 5 foot snowbanks out there,” he told KXMC-TV. “We can handle an open winter this go-round.”

In June 2011, heavy spring snowmelt and rains flooded the river. The high water damaged or destroyed more than 4,000 homes, business and other structures in Minot, and caused damage to cropland and fields throughout the basin.

Weather Service hydrologist Allen Schlag told the Minot Daily News that this year’s snowpack “is on the low end of normal.”

“I’m always on the lookout for something unusual that raises the risk of flooding. I just don’t see any of that this year,” he said.

Reservoir levels and river flows on the Souris will be closely monitored until the spring melt subsides. The Saskatchewan Water Security Agency expects to release its initial runoff outlook in mid-February, before the annual spring meeting of the International Souris River Board in late February in Winnipeg, Manitoba.

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