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Farmers hope dry, cool weather is on way

Thunderstorms dropped heavy rain across parts of eastern North Dakota and northwest and west-central Minnesota, raising the Red River near flood stage and prompting flash flood watches in the region Monday.


Thunderstorms dropped heavy rain across parts of eastern North Dakota and northwest and west-central Minnesota, raising the Red River near flood stage and prompting flash flood watches in the region Monday.

The weather system also spawned a tornado Monday, sighted five miles west of Casselton, N.D., moving northwest. Civil defense sirens blared in Fargo-Moorhead about 6:30 p.m.

Monday morning crops near Montpelier, N.D., were mowed down by hail so heavy it still filled ditches Monday evening, a weather observer reported.

More rain is expected, and the region will be "under the gun" through Wednesday, said National Weather Service meteorologist Greg Gust from Grand Forks, N.D.

In Minnesota, a Little Falls theater roof collapsed Sunday night because of heavy rain. Alexandria had street flooding Sunday and power outages Monday from high winds.Sunday's storm total in the Alexandria area was 6 to 7 inches in some areas, the weather service said.


However, the weather station in Alexandria reported 3.41 inches.

All Fargo lift stations, drains and water retention ponds were handling the rain, said Duane Fowler, a supervisor with the Street Department.

The weather service site at Hector International Airport reported 0.87 inch of rain in the 48 hours up to 10:30 a.m. Monday.

Gust said 2.5 to 3 inches fell in spots overnight Sunday between Fargo and Abercrombie, N.D.

Areas north of Moorhead received 1.7 inches of rain, said Mark Evans of the weather service.

The Red River was at 16.54 feet Monday afternoon, just shy of the 17-foot flood stage. The Red could hit flood stage today, but without significant rain in the next week it is expected to slowly fall.

Near Dilworth, the Buffalo River rose to nearly 10 feet Monday, two feet below flood stage, after rising nearly 5.5 feet in 24 hours.

At the Buffalo-Red River Watershed Office, Director Bruce Albright heard reports from Moorhead, Glyndon and Kragnes that much of rain has soaked into the ground.


"They're saying enough's enough, but so far it's OK," he said.

Ready for a dry spell

Area farmers may already be facing crop damage, and losses will increase the longer water pools on farmland, said Jim Stordahl, regional extension educator for the Minnesota Extension Service. Stordahl works with farmers in Clay, Polk and Norman counties.

Farmers need dry, cool weather to preserve plants, he said.

"The extra rain certainly is having some impact -- we're not at any disaster stage," Stordahl said.

Water was standing in some fields near Sabin, Minn., and the Kragnes Elevator's rain gauge collected 4.2 inches by Monday morning, said Terry Johnson.

"There's always going to be a certain amount of damage when you get that much rain," Johnson said.

The weather service reported hail near Hazelton and Montpelier in Stutsman County, N.D.


Don Olson, a retired farmer living near Montpelier, said an area roughly 15 miles long by four miles wide saw extensive crop damage.

"A lot of places it's completely gone -- sunflowers, corn, soybeans, wheat, barley and oats," said the longtime weather service observer.

"We still have hail a couple of feet deep in ditches," he said about 5:30 p.m. Monday, more than 10 hours after the storm hit.

Minnesota saw some of the heaviest rain in the 48 hours up to 10:30 a.m. Monday, the weather service said: Norcross, 2.95 inches; Red Lake Falls, 2.91; Dalton, 2.09; Campbell, 1.93; Malung, 1.71; Foxhome, 1.60; Lake Traverse, 1.33; Breckenridge 1.25; Warroad, 1.20 inches; Rothsay, 0.97; Pelican Rapids, 0.87; and Twin Valley, 0.76.

In North Dakota, Mayville received 1.47 inches; Gwinner, 1.3; Lidgerwood, 1.19; Cavalier, 1.12; Wahpeton, 1.08; Lankin, 0.98; Homme Dam (near Park River), 0.88.

In Moorhead, baseball and softball programs were canceled Monday because of mired fields. The floating bridge at Woodlawn Park was also removed before it could be damaged by tree snags.

The rains also slowed or halted highway construction.

Leo Wanzek, owner and president of Fargo's Wanzek Construction, said some work can continue on the Interstate 94 bridge over Interstate 29, but grading and other sitework must wait.


Other I-94 projects west of F-M and work on the Rose Creek bike pathway in Fargo also must wait until the soil dries, Wanzek said.

The wet weather is "definitely costing time," said Paul Diederich, president of Industrial Builders of Fargo.

The sound wall project along Interstate 94 in Fargo has been delayed, he said.

"The tree-moving machine doesn't float," he quipped.

However, work on the Main Avenue Bridge project is continuing, he said.

Extra special effects

In Little Falls, about 20 people were watching "The Hulk" when a 10-by-40-foot section of the Falls Cinema roof behind the screen collapsed about 9:40 p.m. Sunday. Concrete, insulation and rain water pushed the movie screen toward the audience. Nobody was hurt.

The force of the collapse blew the doors open.


Readers can reach Forum reporters Helmut Schmidt at (701) 241-5583 and Joy Anderson at (701) 241-5556

The Associated Press contributed to this story.

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