Rain expected to speed up Red River Valley snowmelt
FARGO - The spring thaw that has been so slow in arriving should speed up from rains expected with this weekend's storm. If that happens, the result will mean the Red River and its tributaries, which have begun to stir with the gradual melt, will...
FARGO - The spring thaw that has been so slow in arriving should speed up from rains expected with this weekend's storm.
If that happens, the result will mean the Red River and its tributaries, which have begun to stir with the gradual melt, will begin widespread flooding.
"More significant river responses" are possible within the next five to seven days, the National Weather Service warned Friday.
Another weather system could reach the northern Plains late next week.
"Between the first storm and potential late next-week storm, temperatures will be warm enough to continue, if not accelerate, the melt and runoff process," the weather service's flood outlook stated.
Beginning tonight, rain is expected to fall in the southern Red River Valley, with significant snow possible in the northern valley.
The weather service's forecast predicts Fargo will get less than a tenth of an inch tonight, with between a tenth of an inch and a quarter of an inch possible Sunday.
As the storm continues Sunday night, rain could change to snow, with less than a tenth of an inch of moisture expected.
Low temperatures will remain above freezing tonight and Sunday and then drop down to about 29 degrees Sunday. Monday's high is expected to be around 35 degrees, cooling to 19 degrees Monday night.
Then a warm-up is expected beginning Tuesday, with a high near 39 degrees expected.
John Wheeler, WDAY's chief meteorologist, said he now expects the Red River in Fargo will reach 30 feet by the end of next week, the threshold for major flooding.
The flood crest likely will arrive the following week, between April 10 to 16, Wheeler said.
After the storm, the weather service will "assess precipitation patterns" and issue its updated river forecasts as needed.
Planned flood preparations in Fargo-Moorhead should not be thrown off course by the storm and accelerated melt, Wheeler said. Fargo officials plan to start delivering sandbags Tuesday and plan to start placing them Wednesday.
Barring future changes in the weather, Wheeler said, sandbag and levee construction should be very manageable.
"This is not a mad scramble," he said.
As of Friday evening, the Red River was approaching 20 feet. Minor flooding starts at 18 feet, moderate flooding at 25 feet, major flooding at 30 feet. Earlier, the National Weather Service's flood outlook called for a 50 percent chance of a 40.5 foot crest; the record 2009 crest was 40.84 feet.
Readers can reach Forum reporter Patrick Springer at (701) 241-5522