“You throw mild
temperatures and rain into the snow pack and that combination has sped things up tremendously.”
– greg gust
North Dakota was bracing for major flooding along the Red River to occur this week as melting snow created water levels just below the record set in 2009, the National Weather Service said March 15.
Record-mild temperatures plus recent rain have increased flood concerns in the valley, which is an important U. S. farming region for spring wheat and sugar beets. The flood is occurring a few weeks earlier than the flooding in 2009.
Spring planting normally starts in a few weeks.
The Red River had risen to 24.72 feet (7.5 metres) at mid-morning on March 15 in Fargo, the state’s biggest city in the Red River Valley, leaving it just shy of the moderate flood stage, said Greg Gust, warning co-ordination meteorologist for the Weather Service.
It was expected to reach the major flood stage of 30 feet (9.1 metres) on March 16 and crest at 37 to 39 feet (11.3 to 11.9 metres) by the weekend. Temperatures were to remain above freezing until March 18, Gust said.
“You throw mild temperatures and rain into the snow pack and that combination has sped things up tremendously,” Gust said.
Last year at Fargo, the Red River reached a record 40.84 feet (12.4 metres), damaging hundreds of homes in the state and forcing hundreds more to evacuate. Flooding also left many farmers unable to plant crops, making it one of the worst floods in North Dakota’s history.
Last week was the earliest on record that the minimum temperature averaged above freezing at Fargo, Gust said. Parts of the state also received 1.5 inches (38 mm) of rain last week.
The river flows north into Manitoba, which has also had an earlier-than-normal melt.