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MAJOR GF FLOODING AT 1 PERCENT: Updated outlook finds similar forecast in Devils Lake, Red River Valley

The already low chances of the Red River Valley experiencing major flooding this spring have been lowered even more. The National Weather Service's updated outlook released Thursday calls for just a 1 percent chance of Grand Forks reaching major ...

2011 Red River flooding
Workers cleared debris off the rail line west of Oslo in spring 2011 as the water level from the flooding Red River decreased. Herald file photo by Eric Hylden.

The already low chances of the Red River Valley experiencing major flooding this spring have been lowered even more.

The National Weather Service's updated outlook released Thursday calls for just a 1 percent chance of Grand Forks reaching major flood stage of 46 feet. That's down from 3 percent in the last outlook, which was released Dec. 23.

The outlook indicates a 9 percent chance of Grand Forks reaching moderate flood stage of 40 feet and a 38 percent chance the river will reach minor flood stage of 28 feet.

The new outlook also lowered the chance of Fargo reaching major flood stage of 30 feet from 11 percent to 6 percent.

Lowered chances

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Overall, the latest outlook shows a continued reversal of an early forecast released last August that said the valley could face "unprecedented" major flooding for a fourth consecutive year because of wet conditions.

Those conditions changed in the fall, and much of the Valley has seen rain and snowfall amounts far below normal for several months.

Wahpeton, N.D., Oslo, Minn., and Pembina, N.D., now have a 3 percent chance of experiencing a major flood, while Halstad, Minn., and Drayton, N.D., both have just a 1 percent chance.

The weather service said its newest outlook calls for lower chances of significant spring flooding because of the continued below normal precipitation in the Red River Valley this fall and winter.

Still, Thursday's report said there is a 64 percent chance the river will reach minor flood stage of 18 feet at Fargo and a 61 percent chance of minor flooding of 18 feet at Dilworth, Minn.

Oslo has a 33 percent chance of reaching moderate flood stage of 30 feet, and a 46 percent chance of reaching minor flood stage of 26 feet.

Other factors

The weather service said the latest outlook does not mean the flood threat is already over. Several factors could still impact possible spring flooding in the region:

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- How much snowpack builds up before the spring thaw.

- The amount of water in the snowpack.

- How quickly the snow melts during the thaw.

- Soil conditions, including moisture and frost depth, at the time of the thaw.

- Significant precipitation, snow or rain, during the thaw or at the time of peak flooding on the Red River.

Thursday's outlook said the dry fall and winter so far has allowed soil moisture to lower to more seasonal levels and to drop below what it has been in recent years. Much of the Red River Basin is now experiencing moderate to severe drought conditions, which the National Drought Mitigation Center expects will continue into April.

The weather service will release its next spring flooding outlook on Thursday, Feb. 16.

Reach Johnson at (701) 780-1105; (800) 477-6572, ext. 105; or send email to rjohnson@gfherald.com .

Related Topics: RED RIVER
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