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Spring Warmth Returns, Submerges the Red River Valley

26 Apr 2013, 12:16 pm

Happy Friday! Weather is pleasant and mild across the Northern Plains after a never-ending winter, and some locations will hit highs in the 70s this weekend. Even though things have warmed up by a lot, we barely break even as far as average daytime highs go in Des Moines and Chicago. I don’t think anyone is about to complain, though!

Compared to last weekend, temperatures are drastically warmer. Even compared with yesterday, temperatures have increased by 15-20 degrees. This rapid warming is making a mess of the flooding in the Red River basin and the Souris River basin (the location of the  devastating Minot, ND flood of 2011).

The rapid warming also prompted the National Weather Service in Grand Forks to issue a Flood Watch for the entire area surrounding the river. They’re expecting rural roads to become submerged quickly this weekend after this intensely fast snow melt.

The Red River is expected to crest within the first week of May, with waters reaching near-record levels. Already, the river is swelling out of its banks and hundreds of thousands of sandbags have been filled to try to keep it contained. Crest levels have been forecast to hit 38 feet as of this morning, dangerously close to the record crest level of 40.8 feet during the catastrophic flood of 2009.

The National Weather Service is predicting a jump of 17 feet in just under a week for the Red River at Fargo, ND. Is this crest too late? Compared with previous events (including the record-breaking 1997 flood), this crest is a bit behind schedule, but keep in mind, the entire season of Spring was put on hold across the Northern Plains. A delayed snow melt and frost thaw affects the amount of water barreling down the river at any given time.

The USGS provides current images of the Red River in Fargo, ND and Grand Forks, ND where you can watch the waters rising, slowly but surely. The historical flood marker in Grand Forks displays the highest crests on record, with the top marking the Great Flood of 1997. Grand Forks is expecting less floodwater than Fargo, and has more levees in place to keep the flood waters out of the town.

Just how big will this flood be? Stay tuned to WeatherNation for the latest flood updates as well as your local and regional forecasts. Check out our channel streaming FREE and LIVE here:

And have yourself a fantastic Friday! -Meteorologist Miranda Hilgers

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