How upcoming snowfalls will impact spring flooding

FARGO, N.D. (Valley News Live) - With yet another snowfall coming this weekend, many are wondering what it's going to look like in terms of flooding this spring. Public Works says we'll definitely see some flooding—but how much depends on upcoming weather.

It's just what many Fargo-Moorhead locals want: more snow. And according to our storm team, this weekend's snowfall will be a wet one.

"It's gonna be that sticky snowbally-type snow, as opposed to a lot of that dry, fluffy snow we've seen over the winter," Valley News Storm Team’s Robert Hahn said.

So far, Hahn says we're looking at a potential six to eight inches. But the City of Fargo Public Works director, Ben Dow, says moisture matters when it comes to flooding. Right now the Red River is at 14-plus feet.

"Thirty feet is the mark where we hit major flood stage," Dow said.

Dow says come this spring, we'll definitely surpass that when snow melts—but by how much depends on upcoming weeks.

He says there's a 95 percent chance of the Red River hitting 31.1 feet—where we'd see the typical flooding that Dow says happens most years.

"Since all the improvements we've done, and all the buyouts,” Dow said, “that level of flood, most people in town would not even know it's taking place.

Dow says with minimal flooding, Elm Street and the 12th Avenue North bridge are the two main streets affected. And those closures usually only last a week or so.

And with a 5 percent chance that the water will hit 39 feet, Public Works says we're much more prepared for a greater flood than before.

"You know it wouldn't be like we were in 2009," Dow said.

Back in 2009, Red River water levels hit a record 40-plus feet.

"The 2009 flood, that flood was very difficult,” Dow said. “Our citizens saved the city."

Dow says folks across the state came and volunteered, making sandbags to soak in the flood water.

"There's been a lot of improvements made throughout the city, as far as dykes...that are certainly going to help," public works supervisor, Lee Anderson, said.

City of Fargo engineers tell us since 2009, the city's bought out 240 houses to make way for levees, in order to control the flooding. The city also put up flood walls.

"That was huge for the City of Fargo in protecting downtown," Dow said.

Dow says those flood walls will decrease the number of sandbags needed to just a couple hundred thousand.

"We made 6 million sandbags in 2009," he said.

But they won't start making those until the last two weeks of March.

Public Works says it's still finishing up some projects, such as buying out more homes to make way for more flood protection.