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Published March 14 2011

NWS says warm-up will trigger spring thaw this week; potential storm a ‘growing concern’

GRAND FORKS – A significant warm-up will trigger the spring thaw this week in the Red River basin, and there’s “growing concern” that a spring storm system could hit the area this coming weekend, speeding up the snow melt in the southern basin, the National Weather Service said.

Daytime high temperatures are expected to climb into the lower to mid-40s Tuesday and Wednesday, and additional melting will likely occur as nighttime temperatures dip just below freezing and generate local runoff, the weather service said today in its latest spring thaw progress report.

While that runoff isn’t expected to be significant, some minor river rises may be observed, especially on tributaries in west-central Minnesota and southeast North Dakota. Light rain also is possible Thursday and Friday, which would accelerate the snowmelt runoff in the southern Red River Valley, the weather service said.

However, a bigger concern is a stronger storm system that may take aim at the Northern Plains on Sunday and Monday, which could include “significant” rainfall across the southern Red River basin and heavy snow accumulations in the north, the weather service said.

“Should this system develop … the combination of rain along with a prolonged period of above-freezing temperatures could provide runoff that would initiate flooding on the southern parts of the Red River and its southern tributaries,” the weather service said.