Long wet spell could mean floods
ST. PAUL -- A decade and a half of wet weather means western and southern Minnesotans may face flooding this spring.
National Weather Service and state officials today warned that the Fargo-Moorhead area faces an 85 percent change of major flooding, but well under last year's record. The experts warned that ice jams may cause flooding along streams in places that normally are safe.
Dan Luna of the weather service's Twin Cities office said two straight very wet falls, combined with 15 years of generally wet weather, mean all of western and southern Minnesota is threatened.
Streams have three to four times the water they usually carry this time of year, Luna added, although no flooding is reported now.
"We have a lot more water in levels than we usually do," he said.
This winter's weather leads forecasters to expect more ice jams than normal. Luna said he especially sees a problem in the Red Lake River near Crookston and the upper reaches of the Minnesota River.
Luna and Mark Frazier of the weather service's Grand Forks, N.D., office said that the severity of flooding will depend upon things such as how fast weather warms up this spring and how much rain falls on frozen ground.
While chances that the Red River will exceed last year's record in Fargo-Moorhead are one in 10, Frazier said that the chances are only one in 25 that the Grand Forks level will top the 1997 record.
Minnesota Homeland Security Director Kris Eide said that residents across Minnesota should look into buying flood insurance. Unlike in some years past, there is a 30-day waiting period before the insurance takes effect, she added.
Last year, Eide said, she heard about several people who bought flood insurance, but were flooded a day before the waiting period ended, so had no coverage.