Earlier this week, staff at The National Weather Service said the threat of spring flooding along the Red River in eastern North Dakota and western Minnesota was "very low." This is due to a very dry pattern that has persisted through most of the last year.
At Hector International Airport in Fargo, we finished 2017 with 15.23” of liquid equivalent moisture, which is 7.38” below the 22.61” of moisture we get on a typical year. The amount of moisture we got in 2017 was only 67.3% of the moisture we typically get in a year. Eight months of the year there was a moisture deficit, and four months there was a moisture deficit of more than one inch.
In total for the year 2017, there were 268 days where we did not register moisture, and only 97 days when we picked up more than .01”. There were a number of stretches throughout the year where no moisture fell for 1-2 weeks. March was the driest month of the year, when 28 days were dry and moisture only registered on 3 days in the month.
The moisture deficit would have been much worse, but there were days in the year when we received a good amount of moisture. On Jan 2 we got 9” of snow, on June 13 we got 1.31” of rain, on Aug 13 we got 1.12” of rain, and on Sept 24, we got .95” of rain. Tallying up these four days in the year, we get about 4” of moisture, which is about a quarter of the moisture for the year.
As we flipped the calendar to January 2018, the dry pattern has continued. So far, we have seen 19 dry days and have picked up only .21” of moisture compared to the .57” we typically pick up at this point in the month. Combine that with the snowpack nowhere near where it should be for this time of year, it will take a significant amount of moisture over the next 2 months for the Red River Valley to receive even minor flooding.