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Mike Nowatzki, Published February 27 2009

Chance of major flooding in Fargo up slightly in latest flood outlook

GRAND FORKS, N.D. – The Red River at Fargo has a 90 percent of major flooding and a 60 percent chance of exceeding 35 feet this spring, according to the latest National Weather Service flood outlook released this morning.

The February outlook predicts a slightly higher chance of major flooding than the January outlook, but “there’s nothing drastically different,” said Mark Frazier, meteorologist in charge at the weather service office in Grand Forks.

Flood stage in Fargo is 18 feet, and major flood stage is 30 feet. If the river is forecast to rise above 31 feet, the city closes Second Street to build a temporary dike to protect City Hall.

The outlook released today predicts a 90 percent chance the river will exceed 32.3 feet, a 60 percent chance it will go above 35.1 feet and a 10 percent chance it will rise above 38.5 feet. The river crested at 39.57 feet in 1997.

The outlook says this spring is shaping up to be similar to 2006, when the river crested at 37.13 feet, the fifth-highest crest on record. That flood inundated park land along the river but caused no major damage to residential areas.

The outlook says the snowpack in the headwaters of the Sheyenne, Maple and western Wild Rice rivers contains 5 to 6 inches of water, with 3 to 5 inches elsewhere in the Red River basin, except for the Red River Valley north of Hillsboro.

The weather service will hold a press conference to discuss the outlook at 10 a.m. today in Grand Forks.

Read more in Saturday’s Forum.