March 21st, 2010
06:07 PM ET

Red River crests, snow clobbers southern Plains

[Updated 6:07 p.m.] The Red River crested Sunday, with officials in North Dakota and Minnesota keeping a wary eye on levees and dikes intended to shore up the river's edge.

Farther south, authorities said they linked four deaths to a spring snow storm. The waters of the Red River reached 36.99 feet - 19 feet above flood level - at 9:30 a.m. (10:30 a.m. ET), the National Weather Service reported Sunday evening.

Water surrounded some homes near the river in Fargo, where 700,000 sandbags guarded the city from creeping waters. At least 10 people have been rescued from floodwaters in the area since Friday, according to the U.S. Coast

[Posted 3:10 p.m.] The Red River nearly crested Sunday afternoon, threatening North Dakota and neighboring Minnesota, while farther south authorities say they linked three deaths to a late winter storm.

The waters of the Red River could crest at 37 feet, which is 19 feet above flood stage, according to the National Weather Service. Water surrounded some homes near the river in Fargo, where 700,000 sandbags guarded the city from creeping waters. The river had reached 36.96 feet by 12:15 p.m. (1:15 p.m. ET), the weather service reported.

Moorhead, Minnesota, is also on alert and the city has advised residents to monitor sandbag dikes. Between Moorhead and Fargo, more than a million sandbags were stacked to defend against the river's rising.

Throughout Cass County, North Dakota, which includes Fargo, officials had their eyes on levees and dikes. Between Saturday night and Sunday morning, teams rushed to three locations to reinforce sandbag dikes, said Capt. Grant Larson of the North Dakota Air National Guard. One thousand sandbags were stacked around a home threatened by flood Sunday morning, he said.

"This house would have been lost," he said about the save.

Overall, the situation in Fargo looked good, Mayor Dennis Walaker said Sunday morning. "We're standing tall," Walaker said. "We have to stand tall for a few more days."

The water level is expected to hover around 37 feet until Sunday evening, said City of Fargo spokeswoman Theresa Orecchia.

The weather service forecasts that the river won't recede to 30.9 feet until next Sunday. When the river recedes to 30 feet, or major flood stage, Fargo can begin removing dikes, Orecchia said. The waters are expected to begin their retreat Sunday evening at a rate two to three times slower than it rose, Orecchia said.

"We are still in a wait and watch mode," she added.

The Red River flooding began last week when warmer weather and rain melted snow south of Fargo and Moorhead, causing the river to swell. Upstream, snow and ice have yet to melt, pushing water back toward the two cities. Farther south, the southern Plains blamed three deaths on a late winter storm linked to three deaths.

Stacy Moore, 26, died Saturday when a slush-covered Unionville, Missouri, road caused her to veer off, said Michael Weiseman, radio operator for the Missouri Highway Patrol. Moore's vehicle flipped over and she was ejected, Weiseman said Sunday.

Weather-related vehicle crashes in Kansas and Oklahoma also caused one fatality in each state, authorities said. Oklahoma police investigated 165 crashes, one that resulted in the death of a 7-year-old who was ejected from a vehicle when it crashed in Logan County on Saturday morning, the Oklahoma Department of Emergency Management reported.

Road conditions remain treacherous from eastern Oklahoma to the Kansas-Missouri border as the storm passes over the region. Winter storm warnings from northeast Texas to western Missouri warned of several inches of snow. Anywhere from 3 to 5 inches could fall over northeast

Texas, the weather service reported. By late Sunday, a foot of snow may fall over parts of Oklahoma and Arkansas, which have received several inches already this weekend. Fayetteville, Arkansas, tallied a foot of snow while Westville, Oklahoma, tallied 11 inches Sunday morning, the weather service said. Tulsa, Oklahoma, received 4.5 inches.

Lees Summit in Missouri got 9 inches of snow and parts of west and central Missouri could see another 1 to 2 inches Sunday with total accumulations of 6 to 12 inches from the weekend's storm, the weather service said.

Snow is expected to taper off in the region by late Sunday.

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soundoff (8 Responses)
  1. Lawrence

    As I had mentioned in earlier posts conerning this weather, never underestimate ole man winter. spring will come when he gets good and ready to back off. All of ths ice and snow and rain combined and the rivers cresting over their banks, I doubt there will be any complaints about a drought anywhere. Too much wet is just as bad, it can play hell with the planting of crops. For instance areas that grow cotton, wet is needed when planting the seeds but when it is time to pick the bolls it's a different story. that's they way with all types of crops, need plenty of water at first but when it comes time to harvest . . . the communities with rivers close by, creeks running through the middle of their towns and communities . . . flooding in residential areas is really bad news. what's more, Insureance companies are not going to be happy and a lot of home owner policies will undoubtedly get cancelled. I know for a fact one major insurance company will no longer selll policies in places like certain counties in Florida.

    March 21, 2010 at 1:49 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Lawrence

    But this weather is not all about crops, it is also about the tragic deaths caused by it. That's a lot of area from Texas to as far north as Kansas and Missouri for travel to be so hazardous. Nature is hitting mankind with an ttidtude, hurricanes, quakes, storms such as has been for months in all parts of the country. And tornadoes do occur in winter as well as in the other periods of the year.

    How does one defend against Nature? You don't you learn to lice wih it, respect it abd you learn to respect it by learning it. I lived in the mid west and southwest and lived through those storms, the best thing that one can do if they choose to live there is prepare for them to happen.

    March 21, 2010 at 2:03 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Lawrence

    and some more: cities like Fargo and Moorehead, are not fighting back, they are defending. Myself, I would not live so close to the mighty Red or the Missouri, or the Mississiippi because of the what can happen when there is to much winter or heavy rain falls.

    In Rapid City south Dakota, there is a creek that runs through town, a small creek, but it became a raging. flooding thing one year due to too much winter, andbelieve me winters there are unreal and don't stop happening because the calendar said it was spring time.

    March 21, 2010 at 2:11 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Stacia

    I believe that you are right somewhat about the water and the crops...yay yay yay......but everywhere in the midwest is flooding. I live in a small town close to the big sioux river and that has been flooding for a week and half now. This water is not going away anytime soon, and with the forcast the way it is, its gonna be atleast middle may or june! I dont think that people are as worried about there crops (come from a family of farmers) as they are of their own homes and towns. South Dakota usually gets more snow then we do (Iowa) and we are sitting a bit more on the flooding part then they are. Red River floods are not unusal.

    March 21, 2010 at 4:59 pm | Report abuse |
  5. George

    Hello from Finland
    Don´t You think that this has something to with climate change?
    Don´t You believe, that USA is the biggest source of carbob dioxide and other emissions that cause climate change?
    Don´t You understand, that USA is stronly suffering from the effects of climate change?

    March 21, 2010 at 7:35 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Mark

    "Stacy Moore, 26, died Saturday when a slush-covered Unionville, Missouri, road caused her to veer off, Moore's vehicle flipped over and she was ejected."

    And now her family has to deal with her death because we have another person ejected and killed because they were too bull-headed to wear their seat belt.
    It's too bad that some will never accept that fact that strapping in WILL save your life!

    I am sorry she is dead and I feel deeply for her family, but she did not die due to the slick roads. She died because of failure to use a simple safety device.
    Stories like this should be brought to the forefront to help educate others.

    March 21, 2010 at 9:14 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Kate Cafferty

    The Red River runs north, not south. That's why the snow melt south of Fargo is causing the river to flood at Fargo. What the article refers to as upstream is actually downstream. For example, the Red runs by Grand Forks, ND, which is downstream of Fargo. The Red enters Canada downstream of Grand Forks. CNN reporters - do your homework.

    BTW, the Red is what remains of a vast prehistoric lake, Lake Agassiz. That's why the Red River Valley's soil is very black, heavy and rich. It's called gumbo humus, found only in two other places on Earth - the mouth of the Amazon and the Nile (before the Aswan Dam).

    March 21, 2010 at 9:30 pm | Report abuse |
  8. lepercon

    What are these flood area persons thinking? Why don't the states dig the rivers deeper (like 20 foot, or more) so the water will flow under the ice? Water seeks it own level. The problem with water is: the water must be placed somewhere else. Sand bags work, but it is not the real answer.

    March 21, 2010 at 10:01 pm | Report abuse |