WDAY: The News Leader

Published March 03, 2011, 08:41 AM

New crest percentages increase the chance for record flooding

Fargo, ND (WDAY TV) - The new crest percentages are in and the chance for record flooding in Fargo Moorhead has jumped. In fact, from the headwaters through Fargo, once again numbers are on the rise.

There's a 35 percent chance the river goes higher than the record breaker in '09, or 40.84 feet. The National Weather Service says there's now an 80 percent chance the Red at Fargo-Moorhead will reach 2010 levels. The odds are up 10 percent from 2 weeks ago.

Leaders in both Fargo and Moorhead say the increased projections won't change plans for the flood fight, for now. The Weather Service says the flood will likely hit at the end of this month or in early April.

GREG GUST - National Weather Service: "The further we push this into April, the greater our risk for getting a heavy rain event on top of Frozen ground or snow and clearly if we get something like that it would accelerate the thaw process which also increases the significant flood risk."

Gust says we're likely not going to see a warm up until March 20th at the earliest and says already this Tuesday we have a chance for significant precipitation.

MAYOR DENNIS WALAKER – Fargo: "If you got a 56 inch TV in your basement, take it up to the next level."

The increase in numbers hasn't changed anything in Fargo-Moorhead. The two cities will continue to play the odds and plan for a crest in the 20 to 30 percentile.

Walaker: "2009 took that all apart because we got significant moisture over 4 inches in the month of March with a heavy rainfall that accelerated the run off, that could happen again we could fail."

MICHAEL REDLINGER - Moorhead City Manager: "If we see some numbers trend up, we're certainly going to react to that. We're going to respond to that and make more bags, but again about half million bags by Monday, a million by the end of next week, that'll help us get in a good position."

It is a slim percentage, but in '09, if you go off of early numbers, Fargo-Moorhead hit around a 3 percentile. This year that'd put us well over 43 feet. I asked the mayor if the city can handle that.

Walaker: "There's going to be areas of town that are going to have significant problems if we get up to 44 feet absolutely, at 45 I'm on the bus heading west or east."

Here's a look at a regional flood outlook. Wahpeton has a 35 percent chance it'll reach 2009 levels. It was the 3rd highest the water has ever been.

Grand Forks levels were reduced by about a foot. A fifty-fifty chance they reach 50.4 feet. Percentages at the Sheyenne in Valley City dropped by more than a foot. There's a 70 percent chance it'll reach nearly 15 feet.

The Lisbon and Kindred outlook stayed the same. Devils Lake saw improvement. The lake has a 20 percent chance to rise 3 feet above the previous record. Two weeks ago that probability was at 70 percent.