Favorable flood forecast gives relief to Fargo-Moorhead area

volunteers load a pallet with sandbags
Sandbag filling operations started in Fargo, N.D., on March 10, 2020, with a goal of filling 400,000 sandbags in preparation for potential spring flooding.
Dan Gunderson | MPR News file

While leaders in Fargo, N.D., and Moorhead, Minn., have been taking steps to limit the coronavirus, it appears they won't have to deal with a significant flood on top of the pandemic.

Fargo Mayor Tim Mahoney tells KFGO radio that a near-perfect snowmelt in the last couple of weeks and below-average precipitation has him breathing easier in a year when the Red River Valley received record moisture from September through February.

National Weather Service models are showing a crest between 34 and 35 feet, or about 17 feet above flood stage. Volunteers and employees filled about 220,000 sandbags earlier this month to handle a worst-case scenario of about 39 feet.

A 35-foot crest would shut down some bridges and roads, Mahoney said, but the metropolitan area "should be able to weather this quite nicely without having to put any sandbags out." The sandbags will be available to residents in rural areas, where overland flooding remains a possibility.

National Weather Service meteorologist Greg Gust said spring weather can be fickle but the near-term weather forecast is favorable.

“It does look like we could dodge any really significant precipitation events through the coming week or two, so all is looking pretty good for now,” Gust said.

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