Does late spring raise the flood risk?

Historic flood crest.JPG

The Red River flood this year might just break a record as the latest major spring flood in history.

Historical flood data for Fargo-Moorhead shows there’ve been 15 floods when water was above the 30 foot level. Thirty feet is considered major flood stage.

The latest the river has reached a flood crest is April 19th, 1979.

The destructive flood of 1997 reached its peak on April 18th. (There have been a couple of June and July flood crests unrelated to spring flooding)

The U.S. Geological Survey and the National Weather Service both issued advisories this week that spring flooding is likely to be delayed beyond April 15th.

The NWS says the jet stream is keeping warm air south of the Red River Valley, delaying the snow melt.

According to the NWS, data for Fargo show that March 2013 was the sixth coldest since hydrological observations began in 1900.

The NWS ranked the month of March as the 14th coldest average temperature, the 12th snowiest, and the 11th wettest (including rain and melted snow) for Fargo.

This year also had the deepest average snow depth for the last day of March since weather records began in Fargo in the mid-1880s.

Below normal temperatures are expected to continue into mid April. That will bring a slow snow melt which could reduce flood risk.

On the other hand, forecasters say a change in the weather pattern expected the second half of April will bring an increased risk of significant rainfall.

A two inch rain on top of melting snow could quickly change the flood outlook.

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