Thursday, February 29, 2024 - 09:30pm

BISMARCK, N.D. – Gov. Doug Burgum tonight convened a meeting with Col. Robert J. Newbauer, commander and district engineer of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ Omaha District, stressing the need to keep restricting flows from Garrison Dam until the threat of ice jam flooding has diminished in Bismarck-Mandan and other areas downstream. 

A major ice jam near Fox Island and the Heart River confluence south of Bismarck caused the Missouri River to rise rapidly Wednesday and today, flooding low-lying areas along the shoreline. The river level peaked at around 5:30 p.m. today at 15.43 feet, almost a foot above the minor flood stage of 14.5 feet.

However, by 8:15 p.m., the river level had fallen by nearly 2 feet, to 13.49 feet, after North Dakota National Guard helicopters equipped with 660-gallon buckets repeatedly dumped 5,000-pound bucketloads of river water on top of the ice jam. The ice began to move downriver around 6 p.m. after more than 70,000 gallons of water were dropped in four hours. The operation took place after Burgum signed an executive order declaring an emergency for Burleigh and Morton counties and activating the State Emergency Operations Plan. 

During tonight’s call with Newbauer, U.S. Sen. John Hoeven, Maj. Gen. Alan Dohrmann, director of the Department of Emergency Services and adjutant general of the North Dakota National Guard, North Dakota Department of Water Resources Director Andrea Travnicek and others, Burgum reiterated the need to maintain reduced flows from Garrison Dam until data confirms that river levels are trending downward.

The Corps said earlier today that it would reduce the daily average flow from 25,000 cubic feet per second (cfs) on Wednesday to 22,000 cfs today and 19,000 cfs on Friday. Newbauer agreed not to change Friday’s planned average flow without direction from Burgum and the North Dakota team, and Burgum said he appreciated the Corps’ commitment.

“Thank you to the Corps for being responsible and lowering flows on average 3,000 cfs per day,” Burgum said.

State, local and federal officials planned to monitor levels overnight and meet again Friday morning to assess the situation. For updates on flooding and other major events, visit