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Spring flood outlook; likelihood of moderate to major flooding increases in Red River basin

National Weather Service Grand Forks

Several points along the mainstem Red River have been elevated to a 50 percent or greater probability of major flooding.

The latest spring flood outlook for the Red River and Devils Lake Basins shows yet another increase in probability for moderate to major flooding in the region.

Amanda Lee is service hydrologist with the National Weather Service in Grand Forks.

"Most places are seeing chances above long-term historical averages for the basin; not everywhere, especially parts of the upper Sheyenne and Minnesota tribs, and far northeastern North Dakota. The biggest areas of concern right now look to be the mainstem, and the southeast North Dakota tributaries."

Lee says some positives to the outlook remain – fall precipitation and soil moisture at freeze-up was below normal, and base streamflows along the rivers were near normal. But this year’s frost depth remains between normal and below normal, and snowpack and water content remains normal to above normal. A lot will hinge on how the spring melt goes – and Lee says there are no signs of that happening until well into April.

"Going into the first two weeks of April - below normal temperatures will continue. Hopefully we'll switch to a little bit of a drier pattern, so hopefully that will be in our favor so we can finally start to be able to melt some of this snow. When I talk about normal temperatures - we are getting close to April. So, we can keep saying below normal temperatures, but we're going to have to cross that freezing mark at some point and start melting."

Lee says more precipitation will also be a part of the variables; another system could be coming next week that Lee says is still a bit far out to be able to determine exactly where it will end up.