2011 Souris River flood—Will it happen again?

Fact Sheet 2016-3073
Prepared in cooperation with the North Dakota State Water Commission
By: , and 



The Souris River Basin is a 61,000 square kilometer basin in the provinces of Saskatchewan and Manitoba and the state of North Dakota. Record setting rains in May and June of 2011 led to record flooding with peak annual streamflow values (762 cubic meters per second [m3/s]) more than twice that of any previously recorded peak streamflow and more than five times the estimated 100 year postregulation streamflow (142 m3/s) at the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) streamflow-gaging station above Minot, North Dakota. Upstream from Minot, N. Dak., the Souris River is regulated by three reservoirs in Saskatchewan (Rafferty, Boundary, and Alameda) and Lake Darling in North Dakota. During the 2011 flood, the city of Minot, N. Dak., experienced devastating damages with more than 4,000 homes flooded and 11,000 evacuated. As a result, the Souris River Basin Task Force recommended the U.S. Geological Survey (in cooperation with the North Dakota State Water Commission) develop a model for estimating the probabilities of future flooding and drought. The model that was developed took on four parts: (1) looking at past climate, (2) predicting future climate, (3) developing a streamflow model in response to certain climatic variables, and (4) combining future climate estimates with the streamflow model to predict future streamflow events. By taking into consideration historical climate record and trends in basin response to various climatic conditions, it was determined flood risk will remain high in the Souris River Basin until the wet climate state ends.

Suggested Citation

Nustad, R.A., Kolars, K.A., Vecchia, A.V., and Ryberg, K.R., 2016, 2011 Souris River flood—Will it happen again?: U.S. Geological Survey Fact Sheet 2016–3073, 4 p., http://dx.doi.org/10.3133/fs20163073.

ISSN: 2327-6932 (online)

Study Area

Table of Contents

  • Introduction
  • Looking at Past Climate
  • Predicting Future Climate
  • Streamflow Model
  • Will it Flood Again?
  • References Cited
  • Further Information
Publication type Report
Publication Subtype USGS Numbered Series
Title 2011 Souris River flood—Will it happen again?
Series title Fact Sheet
Series number 2016-3073
DOI 10.3133/fs20163073
Year Published 2016
Language English
Publisher U.S. Geological Survey
Publisher location Reston, VA
Contributing office(s) North Dakota Water Science Center, Dakota Water Science Center
Description 4 p.
First page 1
Last page 4
Country Canada, United States
Other Geospatial Souris River
Online Only (Y/N) Y
Google Analytic Metrics Metrics page
Additional publication details