December 6, 2013 Sections
Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION
FARGO is facing a 40 per cent chance of a record flood -- and that will increase if the skies open up.
Grand Forks is still hoping the flooding won't exceed 2009 and 2011 levels.
As for us, American flood forecasters warn we have a month to hope there are no serious thunderstorms with heavy rain to exacerbate already heavy flooding moving north. That's how long we'll have to wait for the Red River crest to get to Winnipeg.
The news out of North Dakota on Wednesday wasn't great.
In southern parts of the state, "We encourage people to prepare for a flood of record," U.S. National Weather Service meteorologist Greg Gust said from Grand Forks on Wednesday.
"(At) Grand Forks, there's a five per cent risk of its flood of record," Gust said Wednesday.
The latest NWS flood forecast released late Wednesday afternoon bumped up the risk for greater flooding than was earlier expected, Gust said, thanks to heavy snow that hit North Dakota earlier this week. More snow mixed with rain is expected today.
Even so, the Red should be at 2009 and 2011 levels when it hits the border, he said.
But, he said, "We have to recognize that all these points north of (Grand Forks) are subject to the distinct risk of one or more significant precipitation events. You have that same exposure -- a long season ahead. You have the same long exposure to a significant spring event."
Manitoba officials, who will issue their latest flood forecast today, were in telephone contact with their American counterparts Wednesday.
Gust said Fargo and points south are facing double their annual load of moisture. Temperatures are slowly edging up.
"They're likely to see significant runoff (starting) late this week, early next week, and the crest the following week," with the Red River crest reaching Fargo around April 28, he said.
The crest takes 10 days to get from Fargo to Grand Forks, and he's forecasting the crest to reach Pembina, N.D., and the border May 15.
"Certainly, the 2009 mark is realistic for those locations," Gust said.
"In early May, it's common to have half an inch of rain," he said. However, thunderstorms could bring down an inch of rain at a time, and that would be a problem.
The NWS said the Red River crested in Fargo at a record 40.84 feet in 2009.
Before the weekend snow, the agency was predicting a crest of 38.1 feet in Fargo, but is now saying it could be as high as 42 feet, with around 40.3 feet the most likely.
Fargo is boosting temporary dikes to 43 feet.
Grand Forks has made major improvements to its flood protection since 1997, building up its flood wall to nine feet -- almost three metres -- higher than the record 1997 flood.
Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition April 18, 2013 A3
Updated on Thursday, April 18, 2013 at 6:31 AM CDT: