National Weather Service Explains Why Fargo Flood Predictions We - Valley News Live - KVLY/KXJB - Fargo/Grand Forks

National Weather Service Explains Why Fargo Flood Predictions Were Off

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Another day. another lower crest prediction for the Red River through Fargo-Moorhead, and it's raising some questions. The National Weather Service late Tuesday afternoon pegged it at 33.3 feet. If we compare that to where it is right now, we're there, which is good. However, when to compare it to earlier predictions, including last week's 38 feet, it has many wondering why such a difference.

Sandbagging, clay dikes, countless hours and 2 million dollars out of the city of Fargo and taxpayer's pockets. All to prep for a possibly record breaking flood that only went a few feet above major flood stage.

Senior Meteorologist at the National Weather Service in Grand Forks, Dave Kellenbenz, says, "We are very aware of how our initial forecasts look."

Not long ago, the city was in go mode, trying to build protection to over 40 feet. In the past week, the National Weather Serviced dropped the crest prediction time after time, from 38 to 33.3 feet.

Kellenbenz says, "We actually didn't have anything to go on because we've never crested this late."

He adds the late crest, slow warm up and dry soil all played a part.

Kellenbenz says "Even though there were days below freezing, the sun was still strong enough to heat the black dirt, and it allowed that snow to melt into the ground."

And while they know their initial forecast was way off, Kellenbenz says they'll use this odd year to make sure they can get it right next time.

Kellenbenz says, "We're going to take a hard look at it and continue to learn form it."

One thing to point out, predictions have many variables that can influence the outcome, and when something like this has never happened before, they had no data to work off of. But overall, many people agree they would rather spend the $2 million to prepare for a record flood that didn't happen, rather than not being prepared for a record flood.

The National Weather Service is also pointing out that even though Fargo's ground was warm and the predictions were off for the area, their predictions in the Walsch County area are holding to be accurate. That's because the ground there was still frozen and water is running into the river, instead of sinking in to the ground.

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