Likelihood of major flooding on ND river rises

Associated Press

FARGO, N.D. (AP) — The likelihood of significant Red River flooding has risen in North Dakota and Minnesota, the National Weather Service said Tuesday in its latest outlook for the river that has overflowed its banks the past two springs and sent officials and residents in the densely populated region scrambling to save homes and businesses.

There is about a 20-percent chance the river at Fargo and neighboring Moorhead, Minn., will surpass the record crest set in 2009 and about a 50-percent chance it will beat last year's crest, which was the sixth-highest on record, the weather service said.

The river is almost certain to surpass "major" flood stage in Fargo-Moorhead. The weather service in December had calculated those odds at less than 60 percent.

The probability has increased for several reasons, including above-normal water in the snowpack in the north-flowing river's southern valley and an expected wet spring.

Deputy Fargo Mayor Tim Mahoney said he was not surprised by the new figures.

"Everybody knows we've had 19 days of snow in a row. We've been shoveling every night," he said.

City officials will be meeting prior to Monday's City Commission meeting to discuss which areas need the most flood protection, Mahoney said.

"The message is, we will prepare for what we have to prepare for, but we will probably start earlier preparations," he said. "We're going to need some help earlier probably than later in this particular area."

In 2009, the river was above flood stage for a record 61 days. It crested twice — first at 40.84 feet on March 28, followed by a crest of 34 feet more than two weeks later. About 100 homes in the area were damaged, and thousands of people were evacuated.