Posted 1/10/17 (Tue)
By Neal A. Shipman
Well before winter officially arrived, forecasters this fall were predicting that the mild weather patterns that western North Dakota had seen over the last several years would shift to a more normal pattern with colder temperatures and more snow.
Boy, did they ever get that prediction right as so far this winter, we have seen record snowfalls and temperatures plunging into the sub-zeros! But what they didn’t get right was the volume of snow that we would receive. While the total amount of snow that we have received so far in Watford City and McKenzie County is up for some debate, what is not questionable is that since Christmas a record 28 inches has accumulated.
And that two-week accumulation, along with the cold temperatures and high winds, have created headaches and a lot of work for the snow crews that are charged with keeping our city and county roads open. In many cases, as fast as the snow plows opened roads and streets, they were just as quickly filled in by either new snow or wind-driven loose snow.
Virtually everyone in McKenzie County has their own story of how this record amount of snow has plugged their roads or driveways and caused them countless hours of moving snow. But, the one thing that everyone will agree on is that our snow crews have done a tremendous job of moving this mountain of snow from our roadways. Heck, when once Watford City residents complained that the city plows weren’t using their snow gates and filling their driveways with snow, we’ve come to accept that minor inconvenience.
The good news is that it appears that our snow removal crews are finally getting caught up.
The bad news is that more snow is coming.
With that realization, there are two questions that are now on everyone’s minds. First, where is the city going to put any more snow? And just how much flooding can we expect when the snows finally start melting? And for Watford City, those two questions go hand-in-hand. As in the past, the city is currently using city-owned land next to Cherry Creek and the parking lots at the McKenzie County Fairgrounds as sites to pile snow. Since both of these sites drain straight into the creek, depending on how the spring thaw occurs and whether or not there are any ice jams, flooding in many of the low areas that have now been developed for housing or retail within the city limits could become a reality.