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Much of Dakotas on alert for flash flooding; storm system could drop half a foot of rain


BISMARCK, North Dakota — Residents throughout much of the waterlogged Dakotas were on alert for flash flooding Friday as a storm system swept in from the Rockies.

The National Weather Service issued a flash flood watch through Friday night for western and central North Dakota, and for western and north central South Dakota.

Forecasters said the storm system moving from west to east could drop as much as 6 inches of rain.

"Everyone is going to have to keep an eye on the weather," meteorologist Todd Hamilton told The Bismarck Tribune.

An early morning lightning strike Friday caused a fire at a saltwater disposal well near the North Dakotan oil patch town of Ross, state Health Department environmental geologist Kris Roberts told The Associated Press. No one was hurt but the site likely is destroyed.

The weather promised to put a damper on the McQuade charity softball tournament over the weekend in Bismarck and neighboring Mandan. McQuade Distributing Co. bills the event as the largest nonprofit, one-weekend slowpitch softball tournament in the country. Last year, the event drew 454 teams from around the U.S. and Canada.

Many areas in the Dakotas already have saturated soils from recent heavy rains that led to earlier flooding. The problem has been most acute in southeastern South Dakota, where floodwaters in recent weeks have damaged hundreds of homes.

Canton homeowner Tara Ekle told the Argus Leader newspaper that water inundated her basement last week for the first time in the 18 years she has lived there. The family lost their furnace, washer, dryer, water heater, freezer, snowmobile, lawn mower, power tools and photographs to water damage, and doesn't have insurance to cover the loss.

"I never had such a disaster in my life," Ekle said.

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