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Forum staff reports, Published April 03 2013

Red River flooding likely to peak after mid-April in F-M area

FARGO – Peak flooding on the Red River in the Fargo-Moorhead metro area will likely occur sometime after April 15, according to the U.S. Geological Survey and National Weather Service.

USGS stream gauges indicated that on Wednesday the Red still had not begun its spring rise. That means this year’s flood will be much later than the large floods of 2009 and 2011.

This year’s flood also likely will be later than the 1997 flood, which was exacerbated by an early April blizzard, USGS predicts.

In late March, the NWS predicted predicted a 50-50 chance of the Red River topping 38.1 feet in Fargo and a 10 percent chance of a record-setting 40.9 feet.

The Red was at 14.98 feet Wednesday. Flood stage is 18 feet.

“The large floods at Fargo that have previously occurred in April – 1952, 1965, 1969, 1979, and 1997 – peaked from April 15 to April 19,” said Gregg Wiche, director of the USGS North Dakota Water Science Center. “Above-normal snowpack and cold March temperatures have contributed to this year’s late melt.”

Preliminary NWS data shows this March was the sixth-coldest since observations began in 1900. This year also had the deepest average snow depth for the last day of March since weather records began in Fargo in the mid-1880s.

The NWS ranked this March as the 14th for coldest average temperature, the 12th snowiest and the 11th wettest (including rain and melted snow) for Fargo.