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Emily Welker, Published April 21 2013

Flood warnings issued; warm-up could be at hand

GRAND FORKS - National Weather Service officials are warning that a sustained warm-up could happen here by the end of the week, ending our extended winter weather but hastening the melt and flooding throughout the region.

NWS meteorologist Jeff Makowski confirmed that flood warnings are in effect for the Minenesota cities of Dilworth and Sabin along the Buffalo River, and for Wahpeton, N.D., along the Red River. However, he said, this flooding is the result primarily of localized snowmelt running off into those rivers, with more dramatic river rises possible heading into next weekend as the warmup gets underway.

Makowski said Sunday that the Buffalo near Dilworth and Sabin has been rising slowly and steadily over the past couple of days, even with the cooler daytime temperatures in the 30s and 40s the region has seen.

“The mainstem Red is also on the rise, in Wahpeton, in Hickson, even modestly in Fargo,” said Makowski.

The Buffalo River is in many years one of the first rivers to go to flood stage, although that depends on year-to-year trends, he said. Rivers farther to the south tend to trend first in flooding because southern temperatures are often warmer.

The Clay County Sheriff’s Department has had no complaints yet from people in Dilworth or Sabin of flooding affecting homes, although reports of rural roads going under have been coming into the department for the past few days, including 90th Avenue west of Highway 52.

As of 7:45 Sunday evening, the Buffalo River at Sabin was at 10.48 feet, the Red at Wahpeton was at 8.89 feet, and the Red at Fargo was at 16.29 feet.

Readers can reach Forum reporter Emily Welker at (701) 241-5541