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High river levels have kept the 1400 block of Elm Street in north Fargo closed to traffic, but three boys have found a use for it. From left, Tracy Hayes, 17, Seth Pegel, 14, and Hudson Gisvold, 14, fish Monday on the Red River. Coming rains this week could send river levels back above minor flood stage, even up to moderate flood stage of 25 feet. Chris Franz / The Forum

Rain could put Red back in flood stage

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Not in the clear just yet

Red River on Monday: 17.8 feet (18 feet is minor flood stage)

Rain forecast for the region this week: 1-3 inches

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Where Red River could be following rain: 24-24.5 feet (25 feet is moderate flood stage)

FARGO - After setting records, the Red River finally dipped below flood stage last week. But with this week's rain, it appears the river won't be backing down again anytime soon.

The National Weather Service in Grand Forks issued a flood warning on Monday for the Red River at Wahpeton/Breckenridge and in the Fargo-Moorhead area for the next seven days.

The weather service expects at least an inch of rain, with some areas receiving up to 3 inches by the end of the week. Meteorologist Bill Barrett said the heavy rains could cause the Red River to rise to 24 or 24.5 feet in Fargo-Moorhead. Moderate flood stage is 25 feet.

Monday, the river was at 17.8 feet, just below minor flood stage of 18 feet.

"We're looking at the middle of this week for it to start to show some rises over 18 feet," Barrett said.

Until last week, the river remained above the 18-foot flood stage for a record 77 consecutive days, more than two weeks longer than the previous record of 61 days set in 2009.

Although, some areas of the storm system that stretches across the Northern Great Plains may see heavy rains, severe weather should not be a part of this system.

"This isn't going to come in like the typical June thunderstorm; it will be more steady rain," said John Wheeler, chief meteorologist for WDAY.

As the river creeps back up, it will likely cause closures on Elm Street and delay the opening of some park amenities.

"If it gets up to 24, 25 we will lose the lower campground we were just getting ready to open at Lindenwood," said Roger Gress, Fargo Parks executive director. "At this stage, depending on the elevation, it shouldn't affect the golf courses."

Gress said changes have been made to help protect some of the lower lying holes at Edgewood up to a flood stage of about 25 feet.

Gress was trying to remain optimistic about the flooding, saying it could be worse.

Wheeler said rainfall has been below average so far in June.

"As of today, Fargo has only had .89 of an inch of rain in June. The average is 2.3 inches," Wheeler said. "However, the second part of that is going back to Jan. 1. We've had 10.03 inches of rain, and that is actually 1.3 inches above average."

Wheeler said the region has been in a wet cycle for the past 18 years, which is causing the high river levels.

"It doesn't take as much rain for the rivers to rise, he said. "It floods easier now. The soil is just always saturated because we've had so much rainfall over such a long time.

"It's been going on for 18 years. So, of course, there is an end to it, but nobody knows when it will be."

Readers can reach Forum reporter Wendy Reuer at (701) 241-5530

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