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Rivers in northeast North Dakota, northwest Minnesota on the rise as snow melts, rain falls

Some locations throughout the area, including Crookston, Minnesota, may approach record floods in the coming days, the National Weather Service’s Greg Gust said. Additionally, many county roads around the area are either flooded over or washed out.

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East Grand Forks public works employees place barricades at the intersection of Bygland Road and Minnesota Avenue, closing off the Point Bridge at 1 p.m. Sunday, April 24, 2022.
Eric Hylden/Grand Forks Herald

GRAND FORKS — Rivers across eastern North Dakota and western Minnesota are on the rise as melting snow and heavy rains impact waterways in the region.

Some locations throughout the area, including Crookston, Minnesota, may approach record floods in the coming days, the National Weather Service’s Greg Gust said. Additionally, many county roads around the area are either flooded over or washed out.

In Greater Grand Forks, the weather service is predicting the Red River will crest at 48.5 feet mid-week. The river has already seen a quick jump — just before noon Saturday, April 23, the Red was at 28.93 feet; by early Sunday afternoon, the river was up to 39.7 feet.

Red River flooding Sunday
The Red River goes over the Greenway walking path near the Sorlie Bridge on Sunday, April 24.
Sydney Mook / Grand Forks Herald

In East Grand Forks/Grand Forks, minor flood stage is at 28 feet, moderate flood stage is at 40 feet and major flood stage is at 46 feet.

The rising water levels caused city officials on both sides of the river to close the Point Bridge at 1 p.m. Sunday. Access was closed to the Greenway and other parks along the river. Several roads were impacted throughout both cities, including the closure of the on and off ramps and underpass area under Highway 2 in East Grand Forks. As of about 12:45 p.m. Sunday, 27th Avenue North and North Shadyridge Drive were closed in Grand Forks.

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Flood walls were being installed on both sides of the river.

The cities hope to keep the Sorlie Bridge along DeMers Avenue open for now.

Both mayors, Brandon Bochenski and Steve Gander, have declared flood emergencies in their cities.

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The level of the Red River is marked Sunday, April 24, 2022, on the flood obelisk near the Sorlie Bridge in downtown Grand Forks.
Eric Hylden/Grand Forks Herald

John Bernstrom, with Grand Forks’ public information center, said the city is "well within" its flood protection system.

"It's just we have to go pull a few triggers pretty quick," he said.

The Kennedy Bridge is expected to stay open.

Crookston

While the Grand Cities work to put their flood protection measures in place, Crookston is still looking to fill sandbags as the Red Lake River approaches a potential historic crest.

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On Sunday afternoon, the weather service adjusted its peak crest for the Red Lake River by about half a foot to 28.5 feet. While slightly lower than the initial predicted crest, that would still top the city’s flood of record, which was set in 1997 at 28.4 feet.

The northwest Minnesota city was in urgent need of sandbaggers on Sunday as “several city structures are in immediate peril,” according to a city post shared on Facebook.

As a result of the flooding, Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz has activated the Minnesota National Guard to northwest Minnesota. A news release from his office noted that flooding on the Red Lake River at Crookston has closed local roads and threatened key facilities, including a fire station and a housing development. Local government resources are not sufficient to address the threat to life and property posed by the flooding, the release said.

The release noted that several counties have declared local emergencies and activated their emergency operations plans. The Polk County sheriff and emergency manager have requested that the Minnesota National Guard assist with emergency sandbagging, patrol of flood protection systems, and potential evacuation operations.

“When our neighbors are in trouble, we step up to lend a hand,” Walz said in a statement. “I am proud that the Minnesota National Guard has answered this call to serve. The support of the Guard will be critical to ensuring the safety of Minnesotans during this difficult time.”

The East Grand Forks Fire Department planned to bus volunteers from East Grand Forks to Crookston to help with the flood fight.

To contact Crookston’s Emergency Operations Center call 218-281-4363 or 218-281-4383 for more information.

As of Sunday afternoon, the Red Lake River had already hit major flood stage at 26.33 feet. The Red Lake River hits minor flood stage at 15 feet in Crookston, moderate stage at 20 feet and major flood stage at 23 feet.

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Other places in eastern North Dakota and northwestern Minnesota are also likely to see flooding in the coming days.

Sandbagging Crookston Sunday
Volunteers fill sandbags in Crookston on Sunday morning, April 24.
Ingrid Harbo / Grand Forks Herald

Southern Red River Valley

Areas in the southern Red River Valley have mostly experienced “minor rises” this weekend, Gust said, noting the area has had less rainfall over the past few days.

“It did have more rainfall a week ago, and most of that rainfall is into the river system and it’s working its way downstream,” he said.

However, the Sheyenne River at Valley City may reach major flood stage later over the next week. The weather service says that as of Sunday afternoon, the river was sitting just below moderate flood stage at 15.8 feet at Valley City. It is expected to sit around that mark until later in the week on Thursday when it may rise into major flood stage next weekend at 18.5 feet.

For Valley City, minor flood stage happens at 15 feet, moderate at 16 feet and major at 17 feet.

The Red River will likely crest at minor flood stage in Fargo early next week around 23 feet. Minor flood stage occurs at 18 feet in Fargo and moderate stage is at 25 feet. As of Sunday afternoon the river was at 21.8 feet at Fargo.

The Maple River near Mapleton, North Dakota, saw a steep increase over the weekend. Around 12:15 a.m. Saturday the river was around 10 feet but has since entered moderate flood stage at 21.68 feet as of Sunday afternoon. The river may crest overnight at 22 feet at Mapleton. Moderate flood stage is 21 feet there while major flooding occurs at 23 feet.

The Goose River at Hillsboro is also experiencing moderate flooding at 13.69 feet Sunday afternoon and will likely crest at around 15.5 feet on Monday or Tuesday.

Along Interstate 29 north of Hillsboro early Sunday afternoon, standing water was everywhere, flooding fields on both sides of the highway.

Northern Valley

Farther north, Oslo, Minnesota will likely reach major flood stage early next week. As of Sunday afternoon the Red River was sitting at about 34.26 feet. Minor flood stage happens at 26 feet in Oslo, with moderate flood stage at 30 feet and major flood stage at 36 feet. The Red will likely crest around 38 feet on Thursday before slowly moving down in the following days. The flood of record for the city is 38.37 feet, set in April 2009. The Red River most recently hit 38 feet there in 2020, when it crested at 38.01 feet.

The Red River at Pembina could enter major flood stage by late next week. At Pembina major flood stage happens at 49 feet.

At Drayton, the Red also may enter into major flood stage next weekend. There minor flood stage is at 32 feet, moderate is at 38 feet and major is at 42 feet. Exact crest numbers and days may vary as water moves north through the river

The Forest River in Minto may reach moderate flood stage early in the week at 8.1 feet. That’s well below the flood of record of 11.8 feet in 1948 and 1950.

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A bicyclist crosses the Sorlie Bridge in downtown Grand Forks Sunday, April 24, 2022, as the Red River rises.
Eric Hylden/Grand Forks Herald

Sydney Mook has been the managing editor at the Herald since April 2021. In her role she edits and assigns stories and helps reporters develop their work for readers.

Mook has been with the Herald since May 2018 and was first hired as the Herald's higher education reporter where she covered UND and other happenings in state higher education. She was later promoted to community editor in 2019.


For story pitches contact her at smook@gfherald.com or call her at 701-780-1134.
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