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Helmut Schmidt, Published April 03 2013

Red River likely to crest in F-M after April 15

FARGO – Peak flooding on the Red River in Fargo-Moorhead will likely occur after April 15, according to a report released Wednesday by the U.S. Geological Survey and the National Weather Service.

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

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

The large floods at Fargo that have occurred in past Aprils – 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.

A cold front that came in over the Easter weekend stalled the thaw. Tom Grafenauer, a meteorologist with the weather service in Grand Forks, said it doesn’t appear there will be a significant warm-up soon.

In late March, the weather service said there is 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.

A flood of 38.1 feet would be the fifth-highest recorded in Fargo-Moorhead. The record is a crest of 40.84 feet on March 28, 2009.

That forecast – which will be updated as needed –figured in normal precipitation for a week in April, which ranges from 0.25 to 0.40 inches, said Greg Gust, a weather service meterologist.

Most models suggest that a storm system arriving Friday will bring less than 0.25 inches of precipitation, according to weather service forecasts.

Preliminary weather service 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 weather service ranked this March as Fargo’s 14th coldest, 12th snowiest and 11th wettest, including precipitation from both snow and rain.


Readers can reach Forum reporter Helmut Schmidt at (701) 241-5583