Souris River levels in Minot, North Dakota. Yesterday, the river reached major flood stage. By tomorrow, it is expected to exceed its previous record stage. (National Weather Service)

Levels along the raging Souris River, continue rising and are approaching record levels in Minot, North Dakota. Since yesterday, the waters have been overtopping levees there, and more than 11,000 people - or a quarter of the city’s population - have been forced to leave their homes.

The National Weather Service predicts the river will exceed record levels early Friday and crest on Sunday - rising seven feet from the current stage. The previous record was set back in 1881.

Heavy rains in the region and snowmelt have led to the historic flooding. AccuWeather notes Estevan, Saskatchewan, upstream of Minot, has received twice its annual average rain in the last six months.

The waters are rising as the U.S. Army Corps on Engineers releases water from the Lake Darling Dam - about 15 miles upstream, to avoid a catastrophic failure. At wunderground, meteorologist Jeff Masters offers these details:

“By this weekend, the Army Corps of Engineers will open the dam’s flood gates to a maximum flow rate of 20,000 cubic feet per second, which is roughly double the flow rate that the levees in Minot can handle.”

Just upstream of Minot, evacuations are also underway in Burlington, North Dakota where other levees are being overtopped.

Watch Congressman Rick Berg (R-ND) discuss the dire situation in his home state before Congress yesterday evening:

And see this video of the flooding in Minot:

Missouri River flooding continues

On its Facebook page, the National Weather Service provides the following short update on the condition of the swelling Missouri River:

The Missouri River also continues to rise, and levee breaches are a major concern in Missouri, Kansas, Iowa, and Nebraska. Interstate 29 has been shut down in several locations in Iowa and Missouri. Every bridge crossing from St. Joseph, Mo., to Omaha, Neb., has been closed.

Related links:

Photo gallery
NASA Earth Observatory satellite images of flooding