It's August. Rivers in the region are supposed to be in late-summer repose. Lakes and sloughs and tributaries are supposed to be low or dry in anticipation of winter and the sure-to-come spring runoff in 2012.
It's just not happening that way in the Upper Midwest's summer of the monsoon.
The Red River at Fargo likely will flirt with 28 feet soon, some 10 feet above minor flood stage. Low-lying streets, bike paths and golf courses that routinely go under in spring ... will be under in late summer.
The Sheyenne River at Valley City is expected to crest at about 16 feet, a level that prompted the city to mobilize for a possible flood fight and compelled Barnes County to issue a flood emergency. Major flood stage is 17 feet. Downstream, the bloated Sheyenne will threaten Lisbon, Kindred, Fort Ransom and thousands of rural farm acres and miles of rural roads.
The rain spigot has not shut off as it usually does in late July and August. Indeed, Fargo has already surpassed normal August rainfall.
All this, and more, suggests the vast Red River Valley watershed, which includes the Sheyenne River drainage, the Devils Lake Basin and much of the high-water Minnesota lakes country, will freeze up with high water in lakes and rivers.
Scientists who pay close attention to the flood outlook recently took the extraordinary step of warning that late-summer conditions are cause for ''a certain level of concern and implications for 2012.'' That's cautious talk regarding the potential for a big valley flood. A ''potentially precarious hydrologic condition'' is how the experts put it. They've suggested that even with normal winter snowfall, the valley could be in for a serious flood.
That's what they know now. While conditions could change for the better, a wet weather pattern shows no signs of ending, the experts say. The smart option: Be ready for what likely will be major flood No. 4 in as many years.
- The Forum of Fargo, N.D.
Opinion: Other Voices: Poll shows no confidence
The tea party's triumph in the debate over how to reduce the national debt produced a resounding vote of no-confidence. A New York Times/CBS News Poll showed a record 82 percent voter disapproval of Congress.
Reverberations continued as Standard & Poor's delivered the first-ever downgrade of U.S. debt by a major credit rating agency and the Dow Jones Industrial Average dropped more than 600 points.
But Americans are not helplessly caught in the downward spiral. The problem is a political one, and there is a political solution: Do not support candidates for public office who commit themselves to uncompromising ideological purity.
Eighty-two percent of Americans disapprove of the performance of Congress because any hint of a compromise to produce a substantial debt-reduction package was blocked by tea party intransigence and congressional leadership was unable to rein it in.
The sequence of events, which brought the nation to the brink of default, has raised the question of whether or not America's political system is capable of reviving the U.S. economy. It is, of course. The heart of that system is the electorate ... Time will tell if the mood will last.
- The Commercial Appeal of Memphis, Tenn.
Opinion: Other Voices: Accessible city data sets example
Making information public does no good if it's difficult to find it.
The city of Sioux Falls has made finding the salaries of city employees easier on its website. The list is alphabetical by last name and grouped by department. That makes it simple to scan and find the information you're looking for.
We applaud Mayor Mike Huether and the city for making the information more accessible.
And it's a good example for the rest of the state. Current state salary websites require exact name spellings to find information. That can be challenging. If the city can make this change, the state can, too.
We hope Sioux Falls is setting an example for open government, transparency, ease of use and attention to detail with the city salary website.
- The Argus Leader of Sioux Falls