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Archie Ingersoll, Published January 24 2014

First Red River outlook predicts moderate spring flood threat

GRAND FORKS – The National Weather Service says that, for now, the risk of substantial spring flooding appears to be low in the Red River Basin.

“Generally, the main stem Red (River) is looking at a moderate flood threat,” said Greg Gust, a meteorologist with the weather service in Grand Forks. “The risk is not high yet, and we have a lot more winter to go.”

The weather service issued its first spring flood outlook for the year Friday. The next outlooks will be released Feb. 20 and March 6.

Along with the forecast for the Red River, the weather service predicted a minor to moderate potential for flooding of the river’s tributaries.

Gust said the recent cold weather has helped hold down the flood risk because the systems coming through the region have not brought much moisture. For the rest of the winter, below-normal temperatures are expected, the outlook predicted.

“Hopefully by mid-March, we will have warmed up,” Gust said.

Dryness a factor

Another factor contributing to the moderate threat of a flood is the somewhat low water content of the region’s snow, as well as the near-normal dryness of the soils and streams in much of the basin, according to the outlook.

Fargo Mayor Dennis Walaker, a veteran of numerous flood fights, said he saw nothing alarming in Friday’s report.

“Things could change,” he said. “But right now, there’s no reason to have any concerns about what’s going to happen in the spring.”

Walaker said city leaders are planning a trip to Washington in February to work on securing federal funding for a $1.8 billion diversion channel around Fargo and Moorhead.

“The longer we delay this, the more this thing is going to cost,” he said.

Readers can reach Forum reporter Archie Ingersoll at (701) 451-5734