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Water surrounds the Sertoma Freedom Bridge that connects Gooseberry Park in Moorhead and Lindenwood Park in Fargo as the Red River overflows its banks in mid-October. The National Weather Service has predicted a strong chance of significant flooding in the Red River Valley this spring. (Dave Wallis/The Forum)

Weather service predicts 50 to 75 percent chance of major Red River flooding

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FARGO - The National Weather Service today issued an alert predicting a strong chance of significant flooding in the Red River Valley this spring.

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"Based on the amount of rain and snowfall in the Red River Basin over the past few months, we're forecasting a 50 to 75 percent chance of major flooding there this spring," said Scott Dummer, a senior hydrologist with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's North Central River Forecast Center.

"NOAA, along with emergency management and local government officials, is communicating the flood risk early to help residents prepare in advance," Dummer said.

Patrick Slattery, a spokesman for the National Weather Service in Kansas City, said residents should be vigilant and get ready for a serious flood, but added that a number of factors, including future precipitation and the timing of the spring thaw, would have to stack up for a flood of 1997 proportions.

"All these factors would have to align," he said. "They're not expecting anything approaching the 1997 level," when the Red River reached 39.57 feet in Fargo.

The Red River's level today is 14.99 feet. Flood stage is 18 feet.

The message weather forecasters are sending, Slattery said, is to be prepared.

"The best time to prepare for a flood is before it happens, so pay attention," he said.

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