Heavy rain brings back floodingHeavy rain pounded flood-weary North Dakota again, setting records in Bismarck and pushing the Red River above flood stage in Fargo. The National Weather Service said runoff was expected to put the Red above its 18-foot flood stage in Fargo by today but predicted only minor flooding before the river falls back into its banks next week.
By: Herald Staff and Wire Report, Grand Forks Herald
Heavy rain pounded flood-weary North Dakota again, setting records in Bismarck and pushing the Red River above flood stage in Fargo.
The National Weather Service said runoff was expected to put the Red above its 18-foot flood stage in Fargo by today but predicted only minor flooding before the river falls back into its banks next week. Rain that had been falling since Monday had stopped by Wednesday morning, but more storms were possible later in the week, the weather service said.
Much smaller amounts of rain fell in northeastern North Dakota and northwestern Minnesota, with 0.43 inch falling Tuesday at the UND reporting site of the National Weather Service.
But the southern Red River Valley could see thunderstorms again today, as well as scattered hail.
Earlier this spring, Fargo residents fought off two crests of the Red River — the first at a record 40.82 feet and the second at 34 feet.
In southeastern North Dakota, the weather service issued a flood warning through Friday for people along the Wild Rice River. Forecasters said there were reports of about 8 inches of rain in the Abercrombie area, about 30 miles south of Fargo, and almost 4 inches in Wahpeton.
In the Bismarck area, roads were shut down Tuesday, and the roof of a Mandan bowling alley collapsed under the weight of water.
The weather service said its reports ranged from 5.6 inches at the Bismarck airport since Monday to more than 7 inches east of the city, with about an inch falling in an hour Tuesday afternoon. The official total Tuesday for the city itself was a record for the second straight day — 2.58 inches, topping the mark of 1.4 inches set in 1934. It followed the record 3.2 inches Monday.
“I don’t remember us getting this much water,” said Bismarck public works spokesman Bob Stenehjem. “The rain clouds just keep circling around Bismarck. They aren’t going away.”
The owner of Midway Lanes Bowling Alley in Mandan, Jim Mellon, said about 50 people got out of the building safely after the roof caved in sometime after 8:30 p.m. Monday, when the area got about 6 inches of rain. He said no one was hurt. Mellon estimated the damage at as much as $2 million and said 20 lanes at the bowling alley likely will have to be replaced.
Also damaged were a liquor store, an insurance office and a trophy shop in the building.
The storm brought back memories of March and April, when rivers and streams flooded across North Dakota, pushed by heavy rain, snow and ice. Fargo, in the eastern part of the state, was threatened by the Red River. In Bismarck, huge ice jams on the Missouri River forced evacuation of an estimated 1,700 residents and crews used plastic explosives to move the ice and get the water flowing.
“The bright side is, we’re not dealing with the ice this time,” Burleigh County Commission Chairman Jim Peluso said. “So, the water is doing what it’s supposed to do. It’s backing up where it’s supposed to. We don’t have any surprises like we did in March and April.”
The Federal Emergency Management Agency said people with damage from the current storms and flooding might be eligible for aid. FEMA has already provided almost $7 million in individual aid to North Dakotans who suffered damage from spring flooding this year.
In the upper Red River Valley, a chance of showers and thunderstorms is forecasted to continue overnight into today, with a 50 percent chance of showers and temperatures 80 to 85 degrees under mostly cloudy skies. Friday will be cooler but with a similar chance of rain showers. Things will dry off for the weekend, and temperatures will get up into the mid-80s.
The UND reporting site has received 7.74 inches of precipitation since Jan. 1, about a half-inch above normal.
The weather service’s reporting site at the Grand Forks International Airport received 0.01 inch of rain Wednesday, bringing the year’s total to 6.48 inches of precipitation, 0.78 inch below normal, based the years 1971 to 2000.
The Herald’s Stephen J. Lee and The Associated Press contributed to this report.