Forecasters say the Red should fall below major flood stage of 30 feet sometime Saturday and then drop by about a foot each day.
The Red River inched its way down Thursday in the Fargo and Moorhead, Minn., metropolitan area, but the National Weather Service expects the pace of the plunge to increase in the next few days.
The river peaked early Wednesday at an unofficial mark of 33.32 feet, which is more than 15 feet above flood stage and the 11th highest crest of all time in the area. However, no structures were affected.
The river was measured at 32.81 feet at 8:15 a.m. Thursday and 32.51 feet at 4:15 p.m. Forecasters say the Red should fall below major flood stage of 30 feet sometime Saturday and then drop by about a foot each day.
Spencer McCombs, a student at Concordia College in Moorhead, kept close watch on the river, but not because he lives near the water. He researched flooding last fall for his senior project.
"I was pretty engaged," said McCombs, a history major from Fort Atkinson, Wis. "This one was very different from all previous floods I studied because of the late crest and the possibility of thunderstorms impacting it."
As for earlier weather service predictions of a 38- to 42-foot flood, McCombs said, "There are a lot of factors to go into it. I think overestimating was fine."
Fargo has spent about $2 million on flood protection so far, mostly for large temporary floodwalls known as TrapBags. The federal government covers the cost of building emergency clay levees, but not the removal.
North Dakota Republican Sen. John Hoeven was among the public officials who used the city's fourth major flood in five years as fodder for promoting a contentious $2 billion diversion project.
"We can't go through the flood fight every year," Hoeven said. "We've got to have that permanent protection."