The likelihood of a Top 5 or Top 10 flood in Grand Forks has decreased, according to National Weather Service meteorologist Carl Jones.
"We've had basically a perfect snow melt scenario," Jones said. "We have not had any substantial new precipitation basically since January, so we've been really lucky in both those factors."
The Grand Forks area and the rest of the Red River basin are still expected to see major flooding. While it's difficult to predict when flooding will reach the central and northern Red River Basin, Jones said it could start next week at the earliest.
Snow melt and runoff is expected to continue steadily with temperatures projected to frequently be above-freezing. Wednesday morning, March 25, the Red River water levels at Grand Forks were 18.39 feet. Flooding begins at 28 feet.
In the southern basin, a flood warning is in effect and is expected to remain in place until further notice. The National Weather Service updated the warning at 9:15 a.m. Wednesday, March 25, to reflect a change from minor flooding in the Fargo area to moderate flooding. Water levels Wednesday morning were projected to reach 25.7 feet with additional rises possible. Moderate flooding at Fargo begins at 25 feet.
At moderate flood levels, Fargo city parks and recreation areas along the river will begin to flood, and all storm sewer lift stations are now in operation, according to NWS.
The flood severity of the Wild Rice River near Abercrombie also was updated from moderate to major.
Though the Red River in the southern basin has reached action levels, Jones said that offers little additional insight into what residents of the central and northern basin can expect in the coming weeks.
"We still have our snowpack, and our rivers are still frozen here in the central basin," he said. "So we're going to have to wait until all of that starts to melt."
Analysis produced by the Union of Concerned Scientists Wednesday warned that as FEMA faces the coronavirus pandemic, only an estimated 35% of FEMA employees are available to be deployed nationwide during the spring flood season.
With this shortage in mind, the Union of Concerned Scientists urged residents in regions expected to receive moderate to major flooding this spring to be diligent in practicing social distancing and to have a coordinated flood plan ready in case of emergency.
Ahead of spring flooding, the NWS urged residents not to travel through flooded areas, and that most flood deaths occur in vehicles. It takes six inches of fast-moving water to knock a person off their feet, and cars can be moved in as little as two feet of water, according to the NWS.
If a flood watch is issued, it means residents should prepare for a flood. If a flood warning is issued, as is currently the case in Fargo, a flood is imminent or occurring and residents should act. For more information about an area's flood risk, visit www.fema.gov/flood/zones.