Red River rises 2 feet at Fargo, nears major flood

Tue Mar 16, 2010 11:35am EDT
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By Rod Nickel

WINNIPEG, Manitoba (Reuters) - The Red River rose closer, as expected, to causing major flooding at Fargo, North Dakota, on Tuesday, rising more than two feet since Monday afternoon.

The Red rose to 27.4 feet early and was expected to reach the major flooding stage of 30 feet by early Tuesday afternoon, said Greg Gust, warning co-ordination meteorologist for the U.S. National Weather Service.

So far, the river has flooded some city parks and forced closure of a few streets. Once it reaches 34-35 feet later this week, much of downtown Fargo will rely on dikes to stay dry, Gust said.

Fargo is the largest city in the Red River Valley, which straddles North Dakota and Minnesota.

Ice in the river between Wahpeton, North Dakota, and Fargo may slightly slow the Red's crest in Fargo to late Saturday or early Sunday, Gust said. The Weather Service still forecasts the crest to be 37-39 feet in Fargo.

"Obviously, this is all coming in very quickly, so (the delay) gives folks just a little bit of breathing room, not much," Gust said.

Volunteers and National Guard troops were placing sandbags on dikes on Tuesday in North Dakota while the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers built dikes of dirt and clay.

Sunshine and mild temperatures Wednesday and Thursday will likely melt remaining snowpack in the south Red River Valley in North Dakota, Gust said.   Continued...