Views of the Red River from above show the spreading waterway reaching nearly to the Sorlie Bridge and well beyond its banks to the east and west.
A drone piloted by Forum Communications' Click Content Studios on Wednesday captured video of the rising Red, two days before its expected crest of 48 feet. The good news is that a massive storm brewing to the south is only expected to skirt the northern Red River Valley and probably won't add much to the floodwaters, according to the National Weather Service.
The region is forecast to see snow early Thursday through Friday-how much is yet to be determined. Early estimates show Grand Forks may get between 3 and 4 inches of snow, although it could be significantly more or less. Devils Lake could see less than an inch.
Some places in northern South Dakota could see as much as 30 inches of snowfall.
"As you go north of Fargo and closer to us, there's going to be more uncertainty as to what's going to happen there," said National Weather Service meteorologist Amanda Lee. "It kind of just depends on how far north and west this entire system pushes."
Lee said the snow could cause prolonged high-water levels in the Red River but that it won't have an immediate impact on current river levels. Liquid amounts from the snowfall are expected to contribute about a quarter to half an inch to flooding, according to the weather service.
"If we were getting this amount of precipitation as rain it would be a different story," Lee said. "Rivers would rise or continue rising again much quicker, but with it being snow, it'll take a little longer to get in the river system. We might see some additional rises in places where it has already crested, like Wahpeton and Fargo areas; they might rise again a little bit, but probably not as high as they were."
Temperatures are expected to hover near the freezing mark, and Lee said that will mean heavy, wet snow. She said the snow's moisture will affect overall accumulation amounts because heavier snow sinks and compacts.
The storm will come with strong winds, but Lee said the Grand Forks region is not expected to see full blizzard conditions. Sustained winds of 30 to 35 mph are expected Thursday, and gusts could reach 45 mph, Lee said.
"There will be times and periods of reduced visibility, not just from the wind, but from some heavy snow falling at times, which will reduce visibility on its own," she said. "When the snow is so wet, you have to get really, really strong winds to get that blowing around."
Lee said snowstorms in April are unpleasant but not uncommon. Temperatures on Saturday and Sunday are expected to be in the mid 40s, and rain is possible again Monday and Tuesday.
The weather service warned travel may become nearly impossible, and the poorest conditions are expected along the Interstate 94 corridor southeast of Fargo.
"It feels like spring has been here for a while, but this will be a powerful and impactful storm that could cause some travel issues throughout the day tomorrow and even into the Friday morning commute," Lee said.
The Red River was at 45.92 feet Wednesday afternoon in Grand Forks, and is expected to crest at 48 feet by the weekend. The record in Grand Forks is 54.35 feet in 1997. Major flood stage is considered 46 feet.
As the river rose, two of the city's three bridges closed, leaving only the Kennedy Bridge connecting the two cities. On Wednesday, the Grand Forks County Sheriff's Office sent out a press release to remind citizens the Red River is closed for public boating because the high water, ice jams and debris make it unsafe.
Several roadways are closed in the area, and the release said driving around barricades could result in a $250 fine.
The Red River crested in Fargo at 35.03 feet Monday and was at 34.2 feet Wednesday.
The Red River at Oslo was at 37.33 feet Wednesday and is expected to reach 38 feet by the weekend. If the river rises more than expected, it could break the 38.4 foot record set in 2009.
At Pembina, the river was at 39.3 feet and is predicted to reach 50.9 feet by the middle of next week.