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Weekend wet snow storm increases chances of exceeding 38-food Red River crest in Fargo-Moorhead

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By Pat Springer

The Forum of Fargo/Moorhead

FARGO – The chances of exceeding a 38-foot Red River flood crest here have crept up with the storm that draped the area with a heavy coat of wet snow.

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National Weather Service forecasters still are compiling information in order the analyze the impacts of the storm, which officially dumped 8.8 inches of snow containing 0.84 inches of water here as of early this morning.

Unofficial reports this morning indicated 10.8 inches of snow in south Fargo containing 1.15 inches of moisture. Snow totals varied greatly with bands of precipitation that fell Sunday and today.

A new hydrological outlook will be issued in one or two days with the National Weather Service’s latest assessment of the spring flood threat, said Mark Ewens, data acquisition program manager in Grand Forks.

“We’re still assessing,” he said. “We’re still going through the precipitation reports.”

A preliminary assessment suggests the chances of exceeding a 38-foot crest, deemed a 50 percent probability in the last flood outlook, have increased and there now is a greater chance of seeing flood levels in the 20 percent to 30 percent probability range, Ewens said.

“The odds are starting to go against us,” he said.

In the probabilistic flood outlook issued March 21, the last until actual flood crest predictions can be made when water starts flowing, the Red River here had a 25 percent of exceeding 39.1 feet.

The record 2009 flood crested at 40.84 feet.

Many unknowns remain, including additional precipitation, especially whether there are heavy rains during the snow melt, the pace of the thaw and the ability of ground to absorb water, Ewens said.

Weather service forecasters, in consultation with experts at the North Central River Forecast Center, U.S. Geological Service and Army Corps of Engineers, will weigh all of those factors and the historical record to come up with another hydrological outlook in the next two days, Ewens said.

For more about the storm’s impact on the spring flood outlook read Tuesday’s Forum.

Readers can reach Forum reporter

Patrick Springer at (701) 241-5522

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