Date of this Version
Regional Weather Information Center, University of North Dakota; North Dakota State Water Commission. Fact Sheet FS-089-00.
The Devils Lake Basin is a 3,810- square-mile subbasin (fig. 1) in the Red River of the North Basin. At an elevation of about 1,447 feet above sea level, Devils Lake begins to spill into Stump Lake; and at an elevation of about 1,459 feet above sea level, the combined lakes begin to spill through Tolna Coulee into the Sheyenne River (fig. 2). Since the end of glaciation about 10,000 years ago, Devils Lake has fluctuated between spilling and being dry. Research by the North Dakota Geological Survey indicates Devils Lake has overflowed into the Sheyenne River at least twice during the past 4,000 years and has spilled into the Stump Lakes several times (Bluemle, 1991; Murphy and others, 1997). John Bluemle, North Dakota State Geologist, concluded the natural condition for Devils Lake is either rising or falling, and the lake should not be expected to remain at any elevation for a long period of time. Recent conditions indicate the lake is in a rising phase. The lake rose 24.7 feet from February 1993 to August 1999, and flood damages in the Devils Lake Basin have exceeded $300 million. These damages, and the potential for additional damages, have led to an effort to develop an outlet to help control lake levels. Therefore, current and accurate climatologic and hydrologic data are needed to assess the viability of the various options to reduce flood damages at Devils Lake.