FARGO, N.D. — The Red River in North Dakota's largest has city crested slightly below predicted levels and is now slowly receding.
The Red reached 38.75 feet at Fargo-Moorhead early Saturday evening. The Red was expected to crest between 39 and 40 feet, while the cities' flood defences were built up to 42 feet.
As of 9:15 a.m. today, the Red had receded to 38.55 feet, according to the U.S. National Weather Service, which expects the Red to hover above 37 feet for most of the week before receding.
"The river level may fluctuate a few tenths of a foot over the next 48 hours if rainfall occurs," the weather service said in a statement, describing the river as a "near crest."
If Saturday evening's peak turns out to be the crest, the 2011 flood was the fourth-highest in Fargo history, according to the Forum of Fargo-Moorhead. The record crest at Fargo-Moorhead, set in 2009, was 40.84 feet. The 1997 and 1897 floods also peaked higher than this year.
Just to be safe, workers continue to patrol dikes along Fargo's downtown. Meanwhile, on Saturday, unworried residents strolled over the bridges to Moorhead, Minn., pausing to take photos of the high river levels. Flood-gawkers also clambered down the staircase of a partly flooded downtown Moorhead parkade to get an up-close view of the deluge.
The scene led the Forum to suggest this morning that "the Fargo-Moorhead flood felt more than a downtown street fair than the dodging of a bullet."
Overland flooding outside of Fargo-Moorhead, however, is significant in many areas, as some homes and commercial properties are isolated by flood waters.