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Overland flooding to spread north of West Fargo to Harwood, threatening rural subdivisions

Soils are saturated from recent heavy rains, causing water to run off. An area north of West Fargo extending to Harwood is expected to see widespread overland flooding later this week.

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A field and ditch sit under water Tuesday, May 10, 2022, in the 3700 block of Cass County Road 17, north of West Fargo.
Michael Vosburg/The Forum
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FARGO — Drenching rains have resulted in scattered road closures in rural Cass County, and officials and rural residents north of West Fargo extending to Harwood are preparing for flooding as the Sheyenne River rises.

Near the Sheyenne, overland flooding has caused road problems south of Interstate 94 down to North Dakota Highway 46, Jason Benson, Cass County engineer, said Monday, May 9.

“We’ve had quite the challenging last few weeks here,” he said, with significant rain falling over each of the past weekends.

“It’s definitely a substantial event,” he said. “It’s not to the level of being catastrophic.”

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A sign warns drivers of high water Tuesday, May 10, 2022, on Cass County Highway 17 near 19th Avenue, north of West Fargo.
Michael Vosburg/The Forum

In rains that fell Sunday and Monday, Fargo received 1.95 inches, Moorhead 1.53 inches, Wahpeton 1.58 inches, Grand Forks 1.03 inches and Perham 0.47 inches, according to WDAY StormTracker meteorologists.

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Those rains followed earlier heavy rains in recent weeks, soaking the soil, with runoff causing streams and rivers to surge over their banks. The Red River in Fargo, now in minor flood stage, is expected to increase more than two feet to crest at 25.5 feet in moderate flood stage, according to the National Weather Service.

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A path near Fargo's Lindenwood Park is nearly flooded over by the Red River on Monday, May 9, 2022.
Chris Flynn / The Forum

“It’s been relentless,” WDAY StormTracker meteorologist Jesse Ritka said. “The ground is very saturated.”

Flooded gravel roads are being closed until the water recedes. Trouble spots include:

  • Cass County 36, a gravel road, between Horace and Kindred, along the west side of the Sheyenne River.
  • Cass County 16 between Davenport and St. Benedict near Interstate 29. The road is paved, so will remain open.
  • Cass County 14 west of Horace is overtopped by water from the overflowing Sheyenne.
  • Cass County 8 west of the Sheyenne Diversion is under water and closed.
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A pickup truck hits a large rain puddle on Main Avenue in West Fargo on Monday, May 9, 2022.
David Samson/The Forum

Also Monday, the North Dakota Department of Transportation reported water running over the road on Highway 46 at mile point 110, west of Kindred. The highway is reduced to a single lane with speeds reduced to 25 mph. Motorists will need to stop and take turns.

Starting Tuesday and continuing on Wednesday, widespread overland flooding from the Sheyenne River will spread north of West Fargo all the way to Harwood, threatening several rural subdivisions as well as Cass County 17 and 20, Benson said.

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Floodwaters of the Sheyenne River block 14th Street North near 40th Avenue North on Tuesday, May 10, 2022, north of West Fargo.
Michael Vosburg/The Forum

At Harwood, the Sheyenne is expected to reach 90.9 feet, which would be the eighth highest flood on record, Benson said.

“I think the biggest challenge is going to be people who lose access,” with flooded roads blocking entry to their homes, he said.

The area between West Fargo and Harwood, which floods frequently, will be protected once the metro flood diversion project is finished in 2027, Benson said.

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The county has delivered 8,000 sandbags to property owners, and has another 2,500 available, Benson said.

In Clay County, "For the flooding, we are doing OK,” Sheriff Mark Empting said. “I haven’t heard of any wash-outs on the county roads yet. We are keeping an eye on the rain, weather."

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Cornstalks poke above floodwaters of the Sheyenne River on Tuesday, May 10, 2022, next to Cass County Highway 20, north of West Fargo.
Michael Vosburg/The Forum

More rain is likely in the metro area Wednesday and Thursday, coinciding with higher temperatures that could produce summer-like thunderstorms, Ritka said.

“As far as big storm systems, it does look like we’ll dry up a little bit,” she said. There is a chance for rain on Saturday and again next Tuesday, but those systems should be faster-moving, and therefore should produce less rain, Ritka said.

“It’s kind of the spring that just won’t start,” she said.

Forum staff writer David Olson contributed to this report.

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A sump pump sends water into the street in a south Fargo neighborhood during heavy rain on Monday, May 9, 2022.
Chris Flynn / The Forum

Patrick Springer first joined The Forum in 1985. He covers a wide range of subjects including health care, energy and population trends. Email address: pspringer@forumcomm.com
Phone: 701-367-5294
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