The Grand Forks National Weather Service office has issued its first flood forecast of the year for the U.S. portion of the Red River.
According to the report, the risk for moderate, or higher, spring flooding is low, running below long-term historical averages across the basin in the U.S. The report was based on conditions through January 22nd.
At this point, only minor flooding of the Red River is forecast at Pembina, North Dakota.
Meanwhile, the Pembina River is not expected to reach flood stage at Neche.
Looking ahead, the report noted above normal temperatures expected into spring will allow for some early melting of the snowpack, but could introduce the possibility of rain instead of snow in late winter/early spring.
Also, late winter and early spring precipitation, along with the timing and thaw cycle of remaining snowpack, will be the most important spring flood risk factors.
The next U.S. Red River flood forecast will be released February 15th.
You can find additional details from the report, below.
Snowmelt Flood Components:
1. Fall + December Precipitation and Soil Moisture: Below normal to near normal. Fall precipitation (Sep-Nov 2022) was below normal for much of the basin while December brought much above normal precipitation, especially to the southern half of the basin. Soil moisture remains much lower than normal across the northern third of the basin with moderate to severe drought conditions while slightly lower to near average elsewhere.
2. Base Streamflow: Above normal. At the end of December, USGS analyses indicated that the Red River mainstem and its tributaries were flowing higher than normal.
3. Frost Depth: Near normal but variable. The recent January cold has allowed for a deeper frost layer to form across much of the basin. The northern half of the area currently has frost depths of 20-30 inches with locations farther south slightly lower. Lake/river observations indicate ice cover is thinner and less consistent than normal due to relatively mild temperatures.
4. Snowpack and Associated Water Content: Much below normal. Snowfall since Dec. 1st is running 25-50 percent of normal (i.e., much below normal), lowest across the southern two-thirds of the basin. Associated water content is minimal, highest near the international border (up to 1 inch). However, rain/freezing rain from late December still remains in the soils and on the landscape for runoff into the river system.
5. Future Conditions: Climate outlooks indicate continued above normal temperatures from now into spring. This could allow for some early melting of the snowpack and also introduce the possibility of rain instead of snow in late winter/early spring.