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Published February 21, 2013, 10:32 AM

Snowfall increases risk of major spring flooding in Fargo to 79 percent

FARGO – Recent snowfall has significantly increased the chances of major flooding on the Red River here, from 6 percent last month to 79 percent in the latest flood outlook released today by the National Weather Service.

By: Mike Nowatzki, Forum News Service, Forum News Service

FARGO – Recent snowfall has significantly increased the chances of major flooding on the Red River here, from 6 percent last month to 79 percent in the latest flood outlook released today by the National Weather Service.

Major flood stage in Fargo is 30 feet. There’s a 50 percent chance the river will reach 33.2 feet, a 25 percent chance it will hit 35.1 feet and a 5 percent chance of 37.8 feet, the outlook states.

Fargo’s record flood crest is 40.84 feet on March 28, 2009.

The river has a greater than 95 percent chance of reaching moderate flood stage of 25 feet in Fargo, the outlook states.

The Red River at Wahpeton has a 64 percent chance of major flooding. The next greatest chance for major flooding along the Red is in Pembina, at 40 percent.

Late January and February snowstorms and blizzards added significant amounts of snow and snow-water to the snowpack across eastern North Dakota and western Minnesota, especially in the southern Red River Basin, the weather service said.

Snow depths measure up to 2 feet in the headwaters region of the basin from extreme southeastern North Dakota into Minnesota lakes country; 6 to 10 inches across east-central North Dakota and the west-central Minnesota part of the basin; and 10 to 20 inches in the rest of the basin, the outlook states.

The deeper snowpack contains upwards of 5 inches of water, while the shallower snowpack contains 1 to 2 inches and the rest of the basin holds about 2 to 4 inches.

The weather service says there is some uncertainty in the flood risks because of wide variations in snowpack and snow-water measurements taken from the ground and air. Partner agencies and volunteer networks “will be out in full force” from late this month through early March to fill in existing data gaps, the outlook states.

Weather service officials will discuss the outlook during a 10:30 a.m. press conference.

The next outlook will be issued March 7.

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