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Amy Dalrymple, Forum News Service, Published January 26 2012

Spring flood outlook optimistic in Fargo-Moorhead

FARGO - A year ago, Fargo officials were scrambling to order flood-fighting materials as communities geared up for the third consecutive year of major flooding.

This year, however, dry weather has Fargo Mayor Dennis Walaker feeling optimistic.

In its spring flood outlook issued Thursday, the National Weather Service said the Red River at Fargo-Moorhead has a 6 percent chance of major flooding and a 64 percent chance of minor flooding.

“It’s good news to everyone,” Walaker said. “We need a spring off.”

City officials will continue to prepare for a possible flood, but the outlook takes the heat off, he said.

“Everybody, including the general public, is tired after three years in a row,” he said. “This is good news for everybody. I hope the weather continues.”

Cities in Minnesota have generally less than a 50 percent chance of getting to flood stage this year, said meteorologist Mark Ewens of the weather service in Grand Forks.

“The dry weather from this past fall and through the winter has really helped us a lot,” Ewens said.

The flood outlook could change if the area receives significant snowfall or if there is a heavy rainstorm when snow begins to melt, Ewens said.

Current forecasts don’t show significant precipitation on the way.

“The general weather patterns suggest that we’re going to stay generally on the dry side,” Ewens said.

West Fargo has a 4 percent chance of major flooding and 14 percent chance of minor flooding from the Sheyenne River, the weather service said. In Dilworth, the outlook is less than 1 percent chance of major flooding and 51 percent chance of minor flooding from the Buffalo River.

Fargo and Cass County sent most of their leftover flood-fighting materials to Bismarck, Mandan, Minot and other North Dakota communities that experienced flooding last year.

Fargo has 750,000 filled sandbags stored under tarps at the city dump and

3 million unfilled sandbags in storage, Walaker said.

Cass County Administrator Keith Berndt said he’s pleased with the outlook, but county officials will be ready to respond if conditions change.

“We’re happy to see that, but at the same time we’re not trying to be letting our guard down,” Berndt said.

The Sheyenne River at Valley City has a 4 percent chance of minor flooding and a 1 percent chance of major flooding, the weather service said.

Valley City Mayor Bob Werkhoven called the prediction a welcome relief.

“The whole state needs a breather, I think, so we can get caught up on some of our other work,” Werkhoven said.

The weather service also issued the following outlooks:

<•> Wahpeton has a 3 percent chance of major flooding and a 25 percent of minor flooding.

<•> Grand Forks has a 1 percent chance of major flooding and 38 percent chance of minor flooding.

<•> Sabin, Minn., has a less than 1 percent chance of major flooding and a 35 percent chance of minor flooding.

<•> Hawley, Minn., has a 1 percent chance of major flooding and a 33 percent chance of minor flooding.

<•> Lisbon, N.D., has a 3 percent chance of major flooding and 9 percent chance of minor flooding.

<•> Kindred, N.D., has a 6 percent chance of major flooding and 12 percent chance of minor flooding.

<•> Hillsboro, N.D., has a 1 percent chance of major flooding and 4 percent chance of minor flooding.


WDAY Radio contributed to this report

Readers can reach Forum reporter Amy Dalrymple at (701) 241-5590