Red River rises 2 feet in a day, as U.S. flood forecaster predicts high risk of major flooding

By | March 30, 2020

WINNIPEG —  Red River water levels have started to significantly rise as the U.S. flood forecaster predicts a high risk of major flooding along the main stem, with generally moderate to major flooding along the tributaries.

 According to the City of Winnipeg’s website, on March 29 the Red River at James Avenue was at 4.15 feet, then by March 30 it was at 6.10 feet – a rise of nearly two feet. The normal summer level is 6.5 feet above the James Avenue Datum.

The City of Fargo posted that as of March 30, the Red River at Fargo is at 25.49 feet. This means city parks and recreation along the river will begin to flood, and all storm sewer lift stations are in operation. The Red River of the North at East Grand Forks is currently at 21.55 feet. It’s expected to crest on April 6. 

A report released earlier in March by the National Weather Service, covering the period between March 16 and June 14, predicts a high risk (more than 65 per cent) of major flooding at: Fargo/Moorhead, Halstad, Grand Forks/East Grand Forks, Oslo, Drayton, and Pembina on the Red River.

There is also a medium risk (35 to 65 per cent) of major flooding in North Dakota at Valley City and Kindred on the Sheyenne River, and at Neche on the Pembina River.

 “The current snowpack and associated water content is above normal for this time of year, even with the quiet weather conditions the last few weeks,” the report said, noting the snowfall was above average for much of the basin.

 It also said soil moisture was “extremely high” at the time of the freeze up, and that base streamflows are much above normal and currently flowing at the 95thpercentile. The report does note that frost levels are less than normal, as well as river ice and lake thickness.

 In February CTV News Winnipeg reported the mayor of Grand Forks signed an emergency declaration in anticipation for what he called a “top five historic spring flood.” The declaration allows the city to receive federal funding to deal with spring flooding.

 Earlier in March, the City of Fargo asked for help to fill 400,000 sandbags.

 On March 26, the Manitoba government announced it will be spending nearly $8 million on more than 80 municipalities to prepare and protect against flooding. The 2020 Flood Protection Program will help bring extra resources for projects and equipment for crews working on flood protection areas.

 – With files from CTV’s Danton Unger.

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