Williston and the surrounding areas have been hit with heavy rain over the last few days, and with that rain comes flooding.
According to the National Weather Service out of Bismarck, July has been an unusually wet month in Williston, with rainfall 1.54 inches higher than last year's average of .97 inches. The majority of July's rainfall came from Monday's thunderstorm, which also brought severe wind, hail and tornadoes in some places. So far, 2.51 inches of rain have fallen on Williston this month, with 1.41 inches of that coming from Monday's storm.
The torrential downpours have caused flash flooding in areas around Williston, with the intersection of 26th Street and Second Avenue particularly hard hit. Dave Bell, director of Public Works, explained that the issue boils down to too much rain falling too quickly, and the drains being unable to keep up with the flow.
"The system is designed to hold so much," he said. "and by system I mean everything that drains into that area and then the outfall, and when you get that amount of water coming at one time, the entire storm sewer system just gets full of water and backs up."
Bell further explained that the city has three discharge areas where water can drain, and with receiving over an inch of rain in less than 45 minutes, the volume was simply too much for those drains to handle effectively. Bell said it takes time for that water to drain once it's backed up — anywhere from one to four hours, depending on the rainfall. In the event of significant flooding, such as that experienced on Monday, the city will block those intersections off to prevent residents from becoming stranded. Bell says it's safer to avoid areas that are flooded rather than try to drive through them.
"Take an alternate route." He said. "You just don't know how deep it is; 26th Street is a classic example. You can't see the depth of that water. We always recommend if it's flooded, don't take it. If you have an alternate route, use it."
Ken Simosko, meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Bismarck echoed Bell's statements, and added that residents need to be aware that every thunderstorm has the potential to produce severe weather, such as hail, wind and flooding. Your best bet, he said, is to stay indoors and stay tuned to local weather reports and alerts.
"Things can change rather quickly." Simosko said. "Every severe thunderstorm is dangerous and capable of causing damage and injury. So we always tell people to err on the side of caution and stay indoors, but also have a plan in place ahead of time in case you do have to leave."