As tributaries near peaks, Red River crests in northern valley remain a week or more out

Many Red River tributaries are nearing their peaks, but mainstem Red River crests in the northern valley are beyond the seven-day forecast.

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Lauren Castillo, a hydrologic technician with the USGS, wades through floodwater in Minto, ND, Monday, April 17, 2023 after walking to the river gauge on a bridge in the background to confirm readings from the gauge at the bridge.
Eric Hylden/Grand Forks Herald

GRAND FORKS — In the northern valley, mainstem Red River crests will not arrive until late next week, but many of the river’s tributaries are nearing their peaks, forecasters say.

During a Monday, April 17, flood update, Amanda Lee, service hydrologist at the National Weather Service in Grand Forks, said most Minnesota tributaries have crested or will be cresting in the next few days, while many North Dakota tributaries are still on the rise.

For the mainstem Red River in the northern valley, water will begin to rise in the next week, but crests are beyond the seven-day forecast. As far north as Drayton and Pembina, crests could be as far away as the first week of May, said Jim Kaiser, warning coordination meteorologist.

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A system moving into the region Tuesday night, April 17, and into Wednesday, April 18, could bring up to a quarter inch of liquid precipitation to much of the region. Current river forecasts only take into account precipitation forecasts for the next 24 hours, Kaiser said.

“This is only that 24-hour precipitation,” he said. “The impacts from this week’s precipitation event do not look to be a significant cause of major river rises.”


In Minnesota, the Red Lake River at Crookston experienced an ice jam over the weekend, but the river crested at 22.28 feet early Monday morning and is expected to slowly decrease over the rest of the week. In Crookston, moderate flood stage begins at 20 feet and major flood stage begins at 23 feet.

The Snake River at Warren peaked in minor flood stage at 70 feet on Saturday, April 15, and is slowly declining. Minor flood stage begins at 67 feet, and as of late Monday morning, had dropped to 66 feet.

The Two Rivers River at Hallock is experiencing moderate flooding, and is expected to continue for the next 24 to 48 hours before declining.

In North Dakota, an ice jam on the Forest River has caused water levels to rise in Minto, prompting crews to place sandbags. On Monday afternoon, the town was experiencing moderate flooding with the river at 9.25 feet. Moderate flooding starts at 8 feet. The National Weather Service forecast shows the river staying around 9 feet for around a day before declining.

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Jodi Osowski starts cleanup in her basement in Minto Monday, April 17, 2023, after the flooding Forest River seeped into her basement early Monday.
Eric Hylden/Grand Forks Herald

In Walhalla, the Pembina River had an initial crest of 10.2 feet, below the minor flood stage of 11 feet, and is expected to crest a second time around 10 feet on Tuesday morning.

Downstream in Neche, it crested once at 19.5 feet on Sunday, but early Monday afternoon., a flood warning for an ice jam was issued for the location. The warning says the river is expected to rise to 21 feet on Tuesday. Moderate flooding in Neche begins at 19 feet, and major flooding starts at 20.5 feet.

The Goose River at Hillsboro is not expected to reach the minor flood state of 10 feet at this point. NWS projections show it reaching 8.7 feet in the next seven days. However, snow in Traill County that has not yet melted could change the forecast as time goes on.

“Right now the Goose looks like it’s going to behave, but we’ll be watching that — there’s still a lot of snow south of Northwood,” Kaiser said.


When the mainstem Red River does flood, cities could experience moderate to major flooding. In Grand Forks, moderate flooding starts at 40 feet and major flooding starts at 46 feet, though the city is mostly protected by the flood wall. The Point Bridge generally closes at 40 feet, while the Sorlie Bridge closes at 43.5 feet.

Though there’s a clear outline for road, bridge and park closures, Grand Forks communication specialist John Bernstrom said “it’s a bit of a moving target.”

River and overland flooding in northwestern North Dakota has caused road closures, including U.S. Highway 81 from Minto to Grafton. Stay up to date with North Dakota and Minnesota road conditions at and .

Ingrid Harbo joined the Grand Forks Herald in September 2021.

Harbo covers Grand Forks region news, and also writes about business in Grand Forks and the surrounding area.

Readers can reach Harbo at 701-780-1124 or Follow her on Twitter @ingridaharbo.
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