Unusually late Red River flooding should clear soon
Longtime Fargo-Moorhead residents are accustomed to seeing the Red River spill out of its banks in springtime and early summer.
But in August?
It's not unprecedented, and it's happening now as runoff from Monday's heavy rainfall in the southern Red River Valley pushes the river at Fargo above flood stage.
The river is forecast to rise to near 19 feet by this morning and fall below the 18-foot flood stage by Saturday afternoon, the National Weather Service in Grand Forks, N.D., said.
The river level was about 18.4 feet Thursday afternoon. Fargo remains in a flood warning until Saturday night.
Fargo Mayor Dennis Walaker, who helped lead the 1997 flood fight and keeps a close eye on the river, said it's not uncommon for the river to surpass flood stage in June or July. Last year, the river
crested seven times and
didn't drop below flood stage until June 17.
"But it is kind of unusual to have it above flood stage in August," he said.
The last time the river rose above flood stage in August was in 2005, when the river reached 18.34 feet Aug. 28. However, the city also received 7.52 inches of rain that month, a record for August.
Normal rainfall for Fargo in August is 2.52 inches. The city passed that mark in one day Monday, receiving 3.33 inches - a record for Aug. 11.
Wahpeton received up to 7 inches of rain Monday, accounting for much of the water bulge moving through Fargo today.
The bloated river forced the city to close flood-prone Elm Street between 14th and 15th avenues at 9 p.m. Thursday.
Barring any major changes in the forecast, the road will reopen by Monday morning at the latest and possibly as early as Sunday morning, said Al Weigel, Fargo Public Works' operations manager.
Readers can reach Forum reporter Mike Nowatzki at (701) 241-5528