Projected Red River crest at Grand Forks-East Grand Forks lowered to 50 feetWhile floodwaters kept rising in several sites in North Dakota on Wednesday and north of Grand Forks, officials lowered the crest prediction for the Red River in East Grand Forks and Grand Forks to 50 feet late Wednesday night, the second lowering by a foot within 12 hours of the crest predicted to arrive late Thursday night.
By: Stephen J. Lee, Grand Forks Herald
Floodwaters kept rising in several sites in North Dakota Wednesday, especially in Valley City where the Sheyenne River was nearing a crest, and in Burlington, northwest of Minot, where people were advised to evacuate as the Des Lacs River rose.
Towner County northwest of Devils Lake closed nearly all its roads as widespread flooding washed out roads.
But in Grand Forks and East Grand Forks, the Red River made signs late Wednesday as if it was tiring of its long rise as the National Weather Service lowered its crest prediction to 50 feet at about 10:30 p.m., the second lowering within 12 hours.
At about 1 p.m. Wednesday, the weather service pegged the crest at 51 feet, down from the 52 feet it announced Monday. It still should crest late Thursday, near midnight, the weather service said.
The Red was at 49.36 feet in the two cities about 10 p.m. Wednesday and had hardly moved for 12 hours or more.
By late Wednesday, it appeared every place on the Red south of Grand Forks it had begun to fall and its tributaries also are going down.
The Red Lake River in Crookston continues its rapid fall, down 2 feet by 9 p.m. Wednesday from its crest of 20.53 feet late Monday.
From Wednesday morning until about 10 p.m. Wednesday, the Red River in Grand Forks and East Grand Forks stayed pretty close to 49.4 feet, after several days of rising 18 inches to 2 feet per day.
But it wasn’t cresting, said Brad Bramer, meteorologist in the National Weather Service office in Grand Forks.
“The water is finally making its way around in the diversion,” he said of the big ditch that swings from the Red around the south and west sides of Grand Forks before rejoining the Red north of the city. “As the crest moves up from the south, it will rise again. So it’s putting a temporary halt to the rise.”
After Sunday’s rain storms, the weather service had pegged the crest at 52 feet, to hit late Thursday.
It appeared that by about 8 p.m. Wednesday, the Red River’s crest had moved north of the Thompson Bridge, eight miles south of Grand Forks, based on dropping river levels at the Thompson Bridge and at Halstad, Minn., 38 miles south of Grand Forks, Bramer said.
Crest predictions remain in place for downstream from Grand Forks, Bramer said.
The Red at Oslo, Minn., looks to remain at around the 38-foot level for several days, he said. But that’s partly because the water is spreading for miles across the flat Valley land, he said. Some rural residents continue to battle the rising overland waters in Walsh County near the Red River.
State officials closed a 30-mile stretch of Interstate 29 from Manvel, N.D. – which is 11 miles north of Grand Forks – to the Grafton, N.D., exit.
Officials in Towner County in the Devils Lake Basin across north central North Dakota scrambled Wednesday to close dozens of roads as flood waters quickly moved across the rural region.
“I think we probably have in the neighborhood of 75 roads closed at this point,” said Larry Halverson, county highway superintendent and emergency manager. “It’s getting pretty tough to find your way around.”
Many of the roads have washed out. Nobody has been hurt, but there have been a few cases of people driving into water, he said. “They all got out,” he said.
Several rural families are stranded in their homes by washed out roads, but are prepared for it. “There aren’t any medical emergencies or anything that we know if, “ he said.
A portion of state Highway 66 was closed Tuesday and more sections were closed today by the flood waters that move in from the north in two major coulees in Towner County.
Heavy, wet snow far above normal depths this winter ended up providing more flooding faster than expected as the melt speeded up the past few days, Halverson said. Even by Sunday, it didn’t appear there would be problems, but on Monday flood waters moved fast across the entire county, he said.
The north part of the county drains north into Canada and the remainder of the county drains toward Devils Lake.
“We are recommending people use extreme caution,” Halverson said of travelers. “And don’t be driving around sightseeing.”
He has not asked for outside help, such as the National Guard.
“I think the worst is over,” Halverson said late Wednesday afternoon. “We have so many roads closed, there are not many left to close.”
In Burlington, N.D., about 200 people advised to evacuate because a dam on the Des Lacs River could fail. But few appeared to heed the advice by early Wednesday, The Associated Press reported.
The flood fight in Fargo was dismantling, as National Guard troops quit patrolling dikes.
The Red had fallen to about 37 feet by 9 p.m. Wednesday, from its crest of 38.75 feet reached Saturday.
The recent swift rise in the Sheyenne River at Valley City seemed to slow Wednesday, but city officials were buttressing dikes.
It takes days for water in Valley City to make its way along the looping Sheyenne to West Fargo, and it’s likely the Red River will have another foot or more of space to take in the swelling Sheyenne by then, Bramer said.
No real precipitation is expected the next week in the central and northern Red River Valley, he said. There’s a chance a snow system might drop from a quarter inch to a half inch of precipitation on the south end of the Valley Friday, he said.
Reach Lee at (701) 780-1237; (800) 477-6572, ext. 237; or send email to firstname.lastname@example.org