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Flood risk increases for Red River Valley with March snowfall

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FARGO – Early March snowfall has raised the risk of major flooding on the Red River, the National Weather Service said today in its latest flood outlook.

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In Fargo, the chances of the Red River topping major flood stage of 30 feet has risen from 79 percent to 88 percent since the last flood outlook on Feb. 21.

There’s a 50 percent chance the river will rise above 33.8 feet, up from a 50 percent chance at 33.2 feet in the Feb. 21 outlook.

The Red has a 5 percent chance of surpassing 38.2 feet, up from 37.8 feet in the last outlook. City officials say Fargo is well-protected to 38 feet without the need for sandbagging.

The Red River has a 75 percent chance of major flooding at Wahpeton and a 53 percent chance at Pembina, while the Wild Rice River at Abercrombie has a 58 percent chance of major flooding.

The weather service says early March storms added to the snowpack, especially in the northern Red River and Devils Lake basins.

Snow depths range from 6 to 12 inches in the central Red River basin and mid- to upper Sheyenne River basin to around 2 feet in the far northern and far southern areas of the Red River basin.

A March 4 snowstorm added nearly an inch of water to the snowpack, bringing snow-water equivalent up to at least 3 inches basin-wide. The far northern basin is pushing 5 inches and the southern basin is holding 4 to 5 inches with higher amounts in isolated areas – “much above normal” for both areas, the weather service said.

Some of the snowmelt will infiltrate the topsoil and deeper layers, but most of the excessive snowpack is expected to contribute to runoff and flood potential, the weather service said.

This article was written by Mike Nowatzki of Forum News Service.

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Forum News Service
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