The city of Fargo, North Dakota is no longer expecting major flooding this spring. In fact, their snowpack is now mostly gone.
John Wheeler is Chief Meteorologist with WDAY. He says the entire melt lasted only about 10 days, with most of the snow disappearing rapidly last weekend. Wheeler says for the most part ditches are now mostly free flowing, though there are some still frozen culverts in the Red River Valley.
According to Wheeler, there is some flooding happening along gravel roads and though the tributaries and the main stem of the Red River are rising, at this point it appears serious flooding is not likely.
That is a much different outcome than what was expected this winter. Wheeler says flooding concerns really started to ramp up in mid-winter as the result of above average snowfall. But, he says as the winter progressed, the snowpack did not get deeper. He notes the Fargo area had a number of blizzards after the middle of January, but most of them produced very little snowfall.
Further to that, areas south and west of Fargo saw next to no snow this winter. As a result, strong westerly winds would pick up exposed dirt and then brown the snowpack. This helped contribute towards a very rapid melt. He calls it the "perfect non-storm" this spring, or the perfect melt.
As of Wednesday, the National Weather Service (NWS) out of Grand Forks is calling for the Red to crest in Fargo on Sunday at 27.6 feet. That is more than half a foot lower than crest levels in 2020 and would be considered Moderate Flood Stage. As of Wednesday, the Red at Fargo is at 19.96 feet, which is considered Minor Flood Stage. The NWS is predicting a crest this weekend high enough to flood some park lands, bike trails and walking paths, but no sandbags will be needed.
"We don't expect heavy precipitation through the end of the week, so I think we're going to come through unscathed from Fargo upstream," notes Wheeler.
He says there was a little more moisture downstream from Fargo and so it remains to be seen how that will play out. However, Wheeler says unless they get a heavy rainstorm or snowstorm, the Red River should be in pretty good shape up to the Canadian border.
"Right now I think there is cautious optimism that there isn't going to be much flooding," adds Wheeler.