Red River at Grand Forks crests in moderate flood levels with a higher secondary rise expected

Roads throughout the region have been closed due to flooding, and motorists are advised to check road conditions before traveling due to rapidly changing conditions.

Paul Zwilling rows his boat across Cole coulee at the Burke Addition Monday as floodwater cuts off access to East Lake Drive. Photo by Eric Hylden/Grand Forks Herald

GRAND FORKS — The Red River at Grand Forks reached its initial crest around 8:30 a.m. Monday, April 6, at 45.24 feet in moderate flood levels. Flood levels will remain steady over the next few days, and a secondary crest is expected this weekend at about 46.5 feet just above major flood levels.

A storm system that brought snow in the equivalent of 1.5 inches of water to the basin last week raised river levels slightly throughout the Red River Valley, but is expected to have minimal impacts on the severity of the flooding, said National Weather Service's warning coordination meteorologist Greg Gust in a flood briefing Monday morning. Instead, he said the precipitation is expected to prolong crests or cause secondary rises later in the week.

In a virtual press conference Monday afternoon, Grand Forks Mayor Michael Brown said the city's flood protection project action plan has been fully implemented with street and Greenway closures in effect and flood pump stations activated.

"Thank you to public works and water works crews who are executing the plan in a humble, calm and professional manner," Brown said. "We're also monitoring the situation and ready to adapt to changing circumstances."

Farther north, the Red River at Pembina was at 39.82 feet on Monday, slightly above flood stage of 39 feet.


“We're doing very, very well,” said Andrew Kirking, Cavalier (N.D.) County emergency manager.

Even with the addition of several inches of snow that fell Thursday, April 2, and Friday, April 3, the river is not expected to have major flooding. The Red River is expected to crest at 45.7 feet on Sunday, April 12, well below major flood stage of 49 feet.

After a wet fall during 2019, the weather turned drier in the winter and the spring snowmelt was ideal, decreasing the flood threat.

“I think it went far better than anybody could have hoped,” Kirking said.

North Dakota Highway 54 is closed due to flooding from Interstate 29 to the Red River near Oslo, according to a release from the North Dakota Department of Transportation.

Monday afternoon, April 6, the North Dakota Department of Transportation also closed the northbound off-ramp of I-29 Exit 164 about 20 miles north of Grand Forks due to water on the roadway.

There is no signed detour for either closure, and motorists must take an alternate route.

Motorists are encouraged to check road conditions and road closures before traveling and are advised to be aware of rapidly changing conditions, according to the release. Driving through water is dangerous and motorists should never drive around barricades or into flooded areas.


Warm temperatures are expected to continue through Tuesday, with below-freezing temperatures expected overnight mid-week. Snowmelt throughout the week will raise flood levels slightly, and water is continuing to break its way through ice in the tributaries and work its way into the main system.

"Cool and wet is the main descriptor here through the middle part of April, and possibly ... the end of April into the very early part of May, showing cooler, but that's starting to get into a drier pattern for the latter part of April," Gust said. "So we'll see if that holds true."

The Herald's Ann Bailey contributed to this report.

Hannah Shirley covers crime, courts and criminal justice for the Grand Forks Herald. She is a 2018 graduate of the University of Idaho and has lived and worked in Grand Forks since 2019. Prior to moving to North Dakota, she worked as a reporter for the Berkshire Record in Great Barrington, Mass., a receptionist for the Moscow-Pullman Daily News in Moscow, Idaho, and a barista in a New York City coffee shop. She can be reached by phone at (701) 780-1267 or by email at
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