I wanted to take some time now and post something not entirely related to the flood of 1997 - pictures that I took during the past month. As you may notice, all of these photos are posted at the recently-created Picasa Web Albums over at Google. Although I'm not completely sold on this service yet, it does provide something I've been looking for: a place to publicly and easily share my photos. Imageshack, which I have been using to host my pictures, recently launched an image sharing service, but, so far, I haven't been impressed. The servers there are often slow, and it appears impossible to group photos into individual albums. Plus, it should go without saying that Google's service makes it much easier to search for photos that others have uploaded. With any luck, I'll be working on my photo galleries at Google during the next few weeks, so that soon you'll be able to go to http://picasaweb.google.com/mw1125 and view photos that I've taken.
April 3, 2007: The month of April started off on a particularly cold, wintry side throughout much of the Upper Midwest. While not unheard of, the cold was still unusual for the month of April, and was even accompanied with a storm that dumped nearly a foot of snow in some areas of central and northern Minnesota. The Grand Forks area missed the worst of the storm, but still picked up nearly an inch of snow and enjoyed scenes of blowing snow reminiscent of, perhaps, December 3 rather than April 3.
Though the coulee had just become ice-free a few days prior, it froze up once again on April 3 after more than a day of below-freezing temperatures. The new ice was very smooth thanks to the strong winds pushing at the water while it was freezing.
In this photo, you can see streaks of blowing snow being pushed down the sidewalk in the 30 mph winds.
Bundling up was a necessity at the time - the temperature was 14°F, and, with a wind blowing at 28 mph, the wind chill was -6°F. This was probably one of the coldest April days I've ever experienced.
April 4, 2007: After the snowstorm, high pressure settled in, and the following day was relatively clear. Early in the evening, I slowly walked behind Twamley Hall (the administrative building at UND) to see if I could get pictures of the huge flock of robins I had noticed hanging around a few nearby trees a few days earlier. The robins were a bit aprehensive of me at first, but eventually they started coming closer so that they could get some sips from a puddle created by melting snow.
This one here was doing his best to convince me that he wasn't the one who dropped the butt into the puddle. I wasn't buying it, though.
I don't know what kind of birds these are, but they were also sitting in the same trees the robins were.
The coulee was still frozen, as the temperature on April 4 did not make it above 25°F for the entire day. At 7 pm, the temperature was 21°F and the wind chill 6°F. The February-like temperatures made it strange to still be light out so late in the day.
April 14, 2007: With temperatures settling into a more seasonal pattern by the middle of the month, I went out to take a few pictures of the coulee at UND. My intention was to compare these pictures with those taken in roughly the same areas 10 years prior during the major flood. I never got around to doing that, but it's still interesting to note how drastically different the pictures would have turned out if I would have taken them April 14, 1997.
This is the western side of Smith Hall. 10 years ago on roughly this date, water would have been approaching the top of the dike protecting the hall and volunteers would be busy stacking sandbags on top of it.
Another view of the west side of Smith Hall. Once again, the coulee ran right up to the basement of the hall, almost submerging it completely.
This is the Fox Memorial Bridge going over the coulee. During the worst of the flood, the water came up to the top of the black railing.
The Adelphi Fountain stand next to the coulee. Water came up nearly to the spot where I stood to take this picture.
April 20, 2007: Like all other universities around the country, UND mourned the victims of the Virginia Tech shootings. On what was declared the National Day of Mourning, a Virginia Tech display unexpectedly (to me, anyway) showed up in one of the most highly trafficked areas of campus.
I don't know if the original intent was to have people post messages on the display, but here's one that somebody wrote. I think this is the only one that ever appeared on the outdoor display, as there was an "official" poster-type of board available in the student union for people to send condolences and well-wishes. That board ended up being completely full of dozens, maybe hundreds, of messages from different people.
While out taking pictures, everything just lined up perfectly to get this shot. A small hole that allowed the sun to peek through suddenly appeared in the sky while I was near the flag next to Twamley Hall. Even more fortunate was that the wind at the time was relatively strong and blowing from such a direction so as to illuminate the flag perfectly head-on. In addition, the sky behind the flag looked ominous thanks to the sun reflecting off the clouds, and the flag itself was at half-mast out of respect to victims of the Virginia Tech tragedy. All in all, this was probably one of the most beautiful, short-lived scenes I've ever witnessed.
Just to add it as a side note, the flag was ironically ripped right off the pole a few hours later during a windstorm/thunderstorm that rolled through the area with winds topping 60 mph.
April 25, 2007: The Virginia Tech display ended up staying in place for one week. Later on the 25th, a Thursday, some fresh flowers were laid at its base. I intended to wait for the sun to come out on Friday morning so that I could get some pictures, but, by then, the display was gone, and the flowers were placed near the eagle monument.