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Daryl Ritchison, Published July 18 2012

Weather Talk: Red still running slightly above long-term median

A year ago this week, another heavy rain event pushed the Red River up to nearly 25 feet in Fargo- Moorhead. After receding slightly, another rain event in early August pushed the Red to nearly 26 feet on Aug. 7.

With the exception of a few days in June, the Red River in Fargo was above flood stage from March 29 through Aug. 27, 2011. But even with precipitation being well below normal for the past 11 months, the Red River, locally at least, is still running slightly above the long-term median for the middle of July. The current flow through the sensor at the water treatment plant is around 680 cubic feet per second, with the long-term median being 618 cfs.

In 1988, after numerous years of near or below-normal precipitation, the Red was only discharging 10-30 cfs in July and stopped flowing at times in the 1930s. That is one reason why our current drought is classified as a short-term/agricultural drought and, at least for now, is nowhere near as devastating as the long-term droughts from the 1980s, 1950s, 1930s or 1910s.


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