Warm, dry winter lessens likelihood of flooding in Red River Valley
Topsoil conditions are wet and river levels are high this fall in the Red River Valley, but with a warmer and drier winter possible, the National Weather Service said significant flooding this spring is less likely.
The area may get a break, thanks to an El Nino weather pattern that developed this summer and continues this fall, the weather service said in a report released Wednesday.
During a typical El Nino winter, temperatures in the region are 2 to 4 degrees above normal, with fewer arctic air fronts, the weather service said. Also, snowfall is 75 to 80 percent of normal in El Nino years.
If the El Nino pattern holds, it could mitigate the effects of this year's unseasonably cool summer and wet fall, which left soils saturated and rivers running high, the weather service said.
Still, soil conditions are about where they were last fall, the weather service reported.
Most of the rainfall in the valley occurred on the North Dakota side of the Red River, with small parts of Minnesota affected, too, the weather service said.
The soil in Barnes, Cass, Ransom, Sargent and Richland counties in North Dakota, and in Wilkin, Clay, Ottertail and Becker counties, is very wet and storage areas are full, the weather service said.
Unlike last year, the area has not gotten the early, hard freeze that gave soils a "hard, concrete frost."
Still, runoff from October rains led to record Red River flooding early this month, according to the U.S. Geological Survey.