Drought dries up chances of major Red River floodby Dan Gunderson, Minnesota Public Radio
Moorhead, Minn. — The latest National Weather Service flood outlook for the Red River Valley anticipates no chance of significant flooding this spring.
The outlook says there's only a 6 percent chance of major flooding in Fargo-Moorhead. The highest expected river level is about 13 feet lower than the record Red River flood of 2009.
That's a water level that wouldn't require the kind of temporary protection from dikes and levees the city had to use for the past three years.
The National Weather Service says abnormally dry conditions persisting since late summer now have the Red River Valley in moderate to severe drought.
NWS forecaster Mark Ewens said the change is somewhat surprising.
"We originally expected more of a colder and wetter winter than we're getting," he said. "It looks like we're going to have overall drier weather than we've had for the past several years continue for some time."
That weather pattern will likely persist for months or even years, Ewens said. A quick change in a weather pattern known as the arctic oscillation is responsible for the dramatic shift, Ewens said.
The outlook could change depending on how much precipitation falls in the form of snow during the winter or rain in early spring. The Weather Service says long range weather outlooks call for normal precipitation the rest of the winter.