Slow, gentle thaw expected into April

A slow spring melt caused an ice jam along the Red River of the North at Kidder Recreation Area Wednesday, March 25. Streams and rivers into Wahpeton-Breckenridge will fluctuate near or below the minor flood stage, the National Weather Service reported.

An overall slow and gentle thawing process in the southern Red River Valley appears likely to continue into early April.

The National Weather Service in Grand Forks, North Dakota, provided its latest thaw and flood update Thursday, March 26. Temperatures are forecast to be near or above 32 degrees Fahrenheit for the next 7-10 days and little precipitation is expected, NWS reported.

“The far southern Red River Basin is rising through moderate-major stages,” said Greg Gust, a warning coordination meteorologist with NWS. “Streams and rivers into Wahpeton-Breckenridge will fluctuate near or below the minor stage.”

On Thursday, March 19, NWS stated the Red River of the North was nearing a height where action needed to be taken, although flooding was not imminent. The action stage of water levels is 9.5 feet or higher, Daily News previously reported.

“Streams and rivers into and below Fargo-Moorhead will continue steady rises through the moderate stage,” Gust said.

The Red River at Fargo-Moorhead, Minnesota and the Wild Rice River at Abercrombie, North Dakota, are forecast to rise through the moderate stage through Sunday, March 29.

Both the Red River at Fargo-Moorhead and the Wild Rice at Abercrombie may crest late during the week of Sunday, March 29.

“The Red River at Fargo-Moorhead will possibly crest at 30-32 feet on or around April 3,” Gust said. “The Wild Rice will possibly crest between 19-21 feet.”

Beginning Monday, March 30, NWS will offer daily thawing and flood outlooks. As of Thursday, the Wahpeton-Breckenridge, Minnesota area remains as having a moderate risk for flooding.

“These probabilities from March 12 remain in play until the main thaw and runoff are clearly underway,” Gust said. “Once ‘deterministic’ flood forecasts begin, they become the primary guidance source.”

When water levels reach an action stage, Daily News previously reported, jurisdictions may decide to monitor rising rivers and close drainage flap gates as needed.

“It only takes 6 inches of fast moving water to knock you off your feet,” NWS stated. “A car can be moved in as little as 2 feet of water. Ninety percent of all U.S. natural disasters declared by the president involve flooding.”

Agriculture engineers with the North Dakota State University Extension are advising residents, particularly rural residents, to prepare before water accumulates on farmsteads.

Best practices include testing sump pumps to make sure they’re operating properly, moving snow away from building foundations and building small ditches to divert water away from a property.

“If your septic system’s drain field will become flooded or saturated, plug all basement drains and drastically reduce water use in the house or use of other water entering the septic system,” the Extension stated. “Unbolt toilets from the floor to plug the outlet pipe.”

Daily News will continue to follow this story.

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