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Latest outlook predicts 86 percent chance of major flooding in Fargo

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Latest outlook predicts 86 percent chance of major flooding in Fargo
Detroit Lakes Minnesota 511 Washington Avenue 56501

FARGO - The latest flood outlook from the National Weather Service released today predicts an 86 percent chance of major flooding on the Red River at Fargo this spring.


Major flood stage is 30 feet.

There's a 50 percent chance the river will rise to 34.6 feet and a 10 percent chance it will reach 40.6 feet, the outlook predicts. The river crested at a record 40.84 feet on March 28.

Fargo Mayor Dennis Walaker said he knows there's "an awful lot of concern" about flooding this spring, but that it's too early to get worried.

"Anywhere from 30 to 36 feet is not going to be a significant problem other than building a couple of small dikes," he said. "But we certainly don't want to take this lightly. Once again, I just want people to wait and see and we will keep them informed of what's going on."

The outlook also forecasts a 26 percent chance of major Red River flooding in Wahpeton, an 11 percent chance in Halstad, Minn., and a 45 percent chance in Grand Forks.

The Sheyenne River has a 95 percent chance of major flooding at Harwood, a 27 percent chance in Valley City and a 77 percent chance in Lisbon.

The amount of water in the snowpack is comparable to the mid-winter values of 2009, the outlook states. Amounts generally range from 4 to 5 inches in the southern Red River Valley to 2 to 4 inches elsewhere.

The southern Red River basin was wetter than normal last fall, but below the record levels set in 2008 that contributed to last spring's record flood. Still, river base flows "remain well above normal" right now, the weather service said.

To make room for spring runoff from the snowmelt, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers also announced Friday that it will draw down reservoir levels to their maximum levels at Lake Ashtabula, Lake Traverse, Orwell Reservoir and Homme Reservoir.