A flood outlook issued Friday says there's now a 50-50 chance the Red River will approach record levels in Fargo-Moorhead.
The National Weather Service's new flood outlook increases the statistical chance of a record flood in Fargo-Moorhead. There's a 50 percent chance the Red River could match the record flood of 2009, and a 40 percent chance that record will be broken.
National Weather Service Meteorologist Mark Frazier said the area received additional snow and rain this week, and cold weather is delaying the melt into April.
"The later that we go into the spring time, you run that risk of a rapid warm up," Frazier said. "We hope it doesn't happen. No one wants to see that. But we have to realize that possibility is there the longer we go into April."
Frazier said a gradual warmup could bring a slow melt and lower river levels. But there's also an increased chance for rainfall as weather patterns change in April.
City officials took the increased flood risk in stride. Moorhead Mayor Mark Voxland said the city is well prepared for a flood of record proportions.
"We've got things ready and we're feeling really good about it to a certain point," he said. "A lot of what he have to do now is just wait and see how that melt comes and that will help us with our final preparations. But at this point preparation we've done so far looks really good."
Moorhead plans to start building sandbag dikes late next week when temperatures are forecast to rise above freezing.
Fargo City Engineer Mark Bittner said this year's flood will be a challenge, but the city is as ready as it can be.
"We've put ourselves in Fargo in a better position than we have been in the past. We've got more permanent, semi-permanent levees in place," Bittner said.
Fargo and Moorhead have already built several miles of earthen levees and have 4 million sandbags in heated warehouses.
Now they need to wait and see what kind of flood mother nature delivers in early April.