Flood crest in Grand Forks more than a week out, late-week precipitation could impact projections

A flood warning will be issued for much of the Red River Basin Wednesday, April 1, and will remain in effect until further notice.

2019.N.GFH.Red River flooding
The Red River at Grand Forks/East Grand Forks is approaching flood stage after heavy rainfall in the area this past week. (Photo by Sydney Mook/Grand Forks Herald)

A flood warning will be issued for much of the Red River Basin on Wednesday, April 1, and will remain in effect until further notice as water levels throughout the valley continue to rise.

The Red River at Grand Forks was running at 21.2 feet Monday morning and is expected to rise to 43.8 feet over the next seven days. Flood stage begins at 28 feet, and, at 44 feet, the River Road and 17th Street Northwest closure will be assembled.

Water levels at Fargo are expected to crest at 31 feet on April 2, significantly lower than initial estimates. A crest in the Grand Forks area and in the northern basin is still likely more than a week out. Flooding is expected to reach moderate levels in the central basin in the next week, according to current projections.

In a flood briefing on Monday morning, March 30, the first in a series of daily flood briefings expected to run over the next two weeks, National Weather Service lead forecaster Jim Kaiser said projections could change based on how much precipitation the area receives in the coming weeks.

A weather system is expected to bring about one tenth to one quarter of an inch of precipitation to northeast North Dakota Wednesday morning, with more precipitation possible in the region Thursday and Friday.


"Obviously, we're in that window where things can still change, and depend on the temperature regime, we could be dealing with snow rather than rain," Kaiser said. "Right now, it looks like given the track of this system we're going to see the rain/snow line somewhere across the southern valley into the Lake of the Woods/northern Minnesota area with more snow across the northern valley and primarily rain across the south, but we'll have to see where this storm track goes and what the temperature regime does."

Warmer temperatures will last through Tuesday, but Wednesday will see a drop into the 40s and 30s, Kaiser said. By Thursday and Friday, temperatures are expected to dip below freezing, slowing or halting the snowmelt as more snow is potentially added to the snowpack.

Flood projections initially predicted a historic flood for the Red River Basin in 2020, but Kaiser said that an even snowmelt and little precipitation since January improved that outlook.

The Red River at Grand Forks was initially predicted to have a 50% chance of surpassing 48.8 feet, and a 5% chance of surpassing the record set in 1997.

The NWS will update its flood projections throughout the week as monitoring of precipitation systems in the region continues.

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