Weather forecasters in the U.S. predict the Red River could rise within three feet of its record peak as early as a week from today.
In an update issued at noon, the U.S. National Weather Service predicts the Red could rise above 38 feet by Monday, April 11. During the 2009 flood – a record for Fargo – the Red River levels crested at 40.82 feet.
The Red River is at 25 feet in Fargo right now and is rising slightly faster than expected last week, mainly due to accelerated snowmelt, the weather service says.
"The river will continue rising to near 32.8 feet by Saturday evening. Additional rises to between 38 and 40 feet are possible during the April 11 to 13 time period," the weather service said in a bulletin.
The city is planning to protect against a 42-foot crest. The weather service said in March there was a 50 per cent chance of the crest exceeding 40.5 feet.
There was no crest prediction for Fargo today.
Near-record levels at Fargo don’t necessarily translate into near-record levels downstream in Manitoba, because the channel capacity of the Red River increases dramatically north of Grand Forks.
But the accelerating melt means sandbagging will need to take place in and around Winnipeg sooner rather than later. The city is expected to announce its sandbag-delivery plans for 560 properties this afternoon.
Sandbag dikes can not be built when the temperature is below zero because frozen bags are not malleable enough to create a waterproof seal.
Manitoba Water Stewardship director Steve Topping said the Red could begin flooding its banks around Letellier, Man., next week and may crest around Emerson between April 29 and May 5.
A crest in Winnipeg is possible between May 6 and 13, he added, cautioning that is just an educated guess.
The Red may begin to spill naturally into the Red River Floodway later this week, which will slow the rise of the river within the city, he added.
The floodway control structure will not be operated for another one or two weeks because of ice on the river, Topping said.
A minor ice jam earlier this day at Lockport caused brief flooding at Captain Kennedy Road, he added.