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Mary Jo Hotzler, Published March 19 2010

Flood 2009: March 19 – A long, hard winter

March 19 – A long, hard winter

There were signs.

The near-record December snowfall was among the first. That might have been OK had it not been for the deluge of fall rain that came before it. The soil was saturated; the ditches and culverts bloated with frozen water.

Then came more than 24 inches of snow. And it wasn’t even January.

By late February, forecasters were predicting a

60 percent chance of the Red River rising above 35.1 feet – major flood stage is 30 feet – and a

10 percent chance of it surpassing 38.5 feet, just shy of the 1997 crest.

The final blow: A March 10 snowstorm that forced the Fargo-Moorhead area into standstill mode, dumping more than 10 inches of snow.

The ground was soaked, and another weather system was headed our way.

Then, on March 19, Fargo-Moorhead got the bad news: The cities had roughly a week to prepare for a flood that could reach 1997 proportions.

These daily accounts are from the book “Will Over Water,” available at The Forum and area bookstores.