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Forum staff reports, Published January 24 2013

Weather service predicts 6% chance of major Red River flooding

FARGO – Rest easy, sandbaggers. The Red River here has only a 6 percent chance of reaching major flood stage this spring, according to the flood outlook released today by the National Weather Service.

There’s a 74 percent chance the river will reach its minor flood stage of 18 feet at Fargo-Moorhead and a 12 percent chance it will reach moderate flood stage of 25 feet.

Major flood stage is 30 feet. The river currently sits at about 13.9 feet.

Most of the Red River basin has near-normal snowpack, except for slightly lower than normal amounts from north of Fargo to Grand Forks and slightly higher than normal amounts northward from Oslo, Minn., to the U.S.-Canada border and westward to the Devils Lake basin, according to the outlook from the weather service office in Grand Forks.

The outlook calls for below-normal temperatures and near-normal to slightly above-normal precipitation patterns from February to April, followed by a return to drier and warmer than normal conditions through mid- to late summer.

The Red River’s chances of reaching minor flood stage are 21 percent in Grand Forks and 46 percent in Wahpeton. The river has a less than 5 percent chance of hitting major flood stage in the two cities, as well as in Hickson, Drayton and Pembina and Oslo and Halstad, Minn.

The Red’s tributaries, including the Sheyenne and Wild Rice rivers, also are expected to behave, with a less than 5 percent chance of major flooding at all locations except in the far northeastern North Dakota city of Neche, where the Pembina River has a 9 percent chance.