Weather service still says major Red River flooding unlikely
FARGO - A major flood here is unlikely this spring thanks to relatively dry soil and low snowpack levels, new research from the National Weather Service suggests.
FARGO – A major flood here is unlikely this spring thanks to relatively dry soil and low snowpack levels, new research from the National Weather Service suggests.
There is a 5 percent chance of the Red River rising above 29.6 feet in Fargo, according to the NWS report issued Tuesday. Flood stage is 18 feet and major flood stage is 30 feet.
The risk of a major flood increases as the Red River snakes north. There is a 5 percent chance the river will exceed 37.4 feet in Grand Forks. The same number is 43.8 feet in Pembina, the last town before crossing the Canadian border.
In Fargo, the Red River crested at 33.31 feet in 2013 and 17.83 feet in 2012, according to the weather service. In 2009, the river reached a record 40.84 feet.
Snowfall in Fargo-Moorhead has been sparse so far this winter, and the weather service predicts the trend will continue with cold and dry weather into early March.
The snowpack is far below normal throughout most of the U.S. section of the Red River Basin, the weather service report says. The pack ranges from 1 to 15 inches and is heaviest in the north.
Soil moisture is low, too. Across the basin, it has been measured nearly 2 to 3 inches below average.
A heavy snowfall or spring rain could change the flooding outlook, the report cautions, but the weather outlook after mid-March is near normal in terms of temperature and precipitation.
“The threat for significant, impactful, snowmelt flooding is currently quite low, generally much less than historical risks for points north from Wahpeton, into Pembina,” the report says. Another weather service flood update will be issued March 5.