Perk of never-ending winter? Red River flood risk remains moderate


As temperatures slowly start to get warmer, people start to think about spring. For many in northwestern Minnesota, that can also mean flooding.

This year's seemingly-endless winter does have its upside – the potential for substantial flooding on the Red River remains moderate, according to the National Weather Service’s latest spring flood outlook, which was released Thursday.

This outlook is not much different from the report released in February.

Minor to moderate flooding is expected after the spring thaw finally arrives, according to the report. For the Fargo-Moorhead area, the report says there is a 95 percent chance of a crest of 22.8 feet and a 75 percent chance of it reaching 25.2 feet, which is just over the threshold for moderate flooding, according to Forum News.

Minor to moderate flooding is expected from most of the Red River's tributaries in North Dakota and Minnesota, the Grand Forks Herald reports.

The National Weather Service cited the following factors in its assessment:

– Relatively dry snowpack: Snow is at normal depths and the amount of water the snow could produce if it melted is lower than normal. This is due to the much colder and drier air masses that moved through the area this season, according to the Grand Forks Herald.

– Soils remain frozen to a depth of three feet or more in most areas, which will likely make for a later-than-average ground thaw, according to the Forum.

– A late thaw is expected: This year's thaw is expected to be later because of colder-than-usual temperatures this season, according to the Winnipeg Free Press. Below-average temperatures are expected to persist into April.

– Soil moisture and stream flows across the basin are running within seasonal normal ranges for this time of year, according to the Forum. As of Thursday morning, the Red River in Fargo-Moorhead was at 15 feet, which is three feet below the minor flood stage.

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