INFORUM.com | WDAZ.com

WDAY: The News Leader

Published April 22, 2013, 03:39 PM

Red River at Fargo expected to hit 32 feet by Monday

FARGO – The Red River at Fargo is forecast to rise to 32 feet by Monday, 2 feet above major flood stage, according to the first deterministic river forecast issued today by the National Weather Service.

By: Patrick Springer, Forum News Service, Forum News Service

FARGO – The Red River at Fargo is forecast to rise to 32 feet by Monday, 2 feet above major flood stage, according to the first deterministic river forecast issued today by the National Weather Service.

The river currently stands at about 16.44 feet. Flood stage begins at 18 feet, and major flood stage is 30 feet.

The last flood outlook released by the weather service on April 17 gave a 40 percent chance that Fargo could see a record flood this spring. The current record of 40.84 feet was set in 2009.

The deterministic river forecast, which extends seven days, is based on current river conditions and the temperature and precipitation outlook.

Weather service meteorologist Jeff Makowski said high temperatures will remain in the 30s and 40s through Wednesday, with nighttime lows below freezing, before a warm-up begins on Thursday. Highs are expected to reach near 57 degrees on Friday, 61 degrees on Saturday and 64 degrees on Sunday, which when coupled with nighttime lows above freezing will significantly speed up the snow melt, he said.

“You don’t really stop the thawing overnight,” he said.

Today’s deterministic forecast doesn’t predict when the Red River will crest in Fargo. That prediction is expected to be issued later this week, for a crest sometime later next week, according to a statement from Greg Gust, warning coordination meteorologist at the weather service office in Grand Forks.

“It really depends on how quickly the snow melts, how rapidly the temperatures warm up,” Makowski said.

The Red River at Wahpeton is expected to hit major flood stage on Saturday and crest sometime early next week at between 16 and 18 feet, the weather service predicts.

The Red's record crest in Wahpeton is 19.42 feet on April 6, 1997. The north-flowing river crested there at 17.5 feet on March 24, 2009, four days before the record crest in Fargo.

Fargo flood preparations kicked into high gear Monday morning with deliveries of sandbags to the Oak Grove neighborhood and the start of trap bag construction near Riverside Cemetery.

The trap bags will extend south along Fifth Street from the cemetery to the entrance of Fargo Country Club, roughly three blocks. The flood protection barrier is expected to be completed Wednesday.

Also today, construction will begin on clay levees at Lindenwood Drive and Oak Street North.

The melt is expected to accelerate later this week, when temperatures could approach 60 degrees.

At Sandbag Central, almost 300,000 bags had been filled as of early today toward the goal of 500,000 bags to augment the more than 1 million previously made.

Fargo is building clay levees to 44 feet and sandbag barriers to 43 feet.

The National Weather Service last week predicted the Red River mostly likely will crest between 39 feet and 41 feet, with a midrange of 40.3 feet. Forecasters cautioned, however, that the crest could range from 38 feet to 42 feet.

Fargo-Moorhead is preparing for what could be the fourth top-five flood in five years. The record 2009 flood crested at 40.84 feet.

Tags: