A National Weather Service forecast released Thursday says Fargo-Moorhead should prepare for one of its top five floods in history.
Flood stage for the Red River is 18 ft. The new flood outlook shows a 50 percent chance the river will exceed 38 ft. at Fargo, beating the No. 5 all-time highest crest of 37.34 ft. in 1969.
Moderate flooding is expected on central Red River Valley tributaries, but the risk is up significantly.
SPRING RAIN A PROBLEM
NWS warning coordination meteorologist Greg Gust said flood risks have increased 15 percent in the past two weeks, meaning parts of Minnesota are facing a 95 percent chance of major spring flooding.
Gust said rainfall this spring, coupled with a rapid thaw, will be problematic.
"Those could be some tumultuous conditions," said Greg Gust, meteorologist for the weather service. "The bottom line is that we have a way above normal snowpack sitting out there right now."
MINNESOTA + NORTH DAKOTA PREPARED
Fargo Mayor Dennis Walaker and city engineer April Walker said the city's recent flood protection improvements have the city in good shape for spring flooding, but they plan to create a reserve of more than one million sandbags.
Walaker said the city "will do whatever's necessary" to protect its residents, but believes the only disaster-avoiding solution is a proposed $2 billion diversion channel.
Minnesota emergency managers have been helping cities in the Red River Valley prepare for spring flooding since the nearly 41-ft. crest in 2009 that forced evacuations and caused an estimated $100 million in damage.
Standard homeowner's insurance does not cover flood losses, and there is a 30-day waiting period before a policy takes effect.
Homes and businesses don't have to be in high-risk flood hazard areas to qualify. More than 20 percent of all claims come from floods that happened in low or moderate flood-risk areas.
FEMA says the average flood insurance premium in Minnesota is about $663 a year, but costs can be much lower in lower risk areas.
Tips for filing a flood insurance claim: http://bit.ly/YbqFwq
FEMA flood insurance information: http://www.floodsmart.gov