Melting snow, filling dams, flood fear in the West

June 3, 2011DUBLIN GRAND COULEE DAM — Giant concrete dam Pacific Northwest filled with water. Wyoming National Guard troops deployed to deliver a pile of sandbags. States in the West linked to major flooding in the weeks after writing the mountain snow is melting and sending water gushing into rivers, streams and low-lying areas. The catalyst will be warmer weather next week, which may establish a rapid thaw. Randy Julander, head of the U.S. Department of Agriculture Natural Resources Conservation Service, says flooding this year could be even worse than anyone had ever seen. Julander said in a typical year the weather warms gradually, allowing snow in the mountains to melt slowly and ease into rivers and streams over time. This is not the case this year after a cool, rainy spring. "It's just sitting, sitting, sitting. Everybody knows that he is going to go down, it's just when and how fast we are all waiting for," he said. "The bull is basically sitting in the chute and the gates are already open. It just did not come out to play again, but when he was there, I anticipate that it will really count, and bucking hard." In the Grand Coulee Dam, gigantic cascades of water are available to make place for the spring thaw, which is expected to fill the tank. Constant roar emanates from the structure, as a growing water churns Columbia River below the dam into a white froth. Dam, 500 feet, miles across, and one of the largest concrete structures in the world. It is the foundation of the dam built network in the Pacific Northwest in the New Deal, the era, in fact, act as a giant pipeline system for the region — and in those days the pipe full. The dam produces so much water that millions of fish have been compromised. Heavy flow through spillway capture dangerous levels of nitrogen from the air and the gas bubbles give fish the equivalent curves. Fisheries around Grand Coulee Dams says an estimated 100,000 fish die every day, and went to court to slow down. —Seattle Times

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