Froeber: NWS won’t update flood outlook unless things really warm up or area gets precipitation

    While it might be trying the patience for those longing in especially intense fashion for some warmth after a long winter that commenced last October and never really went away, spring flood experts say the slow, consistent melt that has commenced so far this spring in the Red River Basin has been ideal so far.

    With the daily pattern of melting temperatures during the day and re-freezing overnight, hydrologists at the National Weather Service are sticking to the latest spring flood outlook they last updated last week, Crookston Emergency Manager Tim Froeber reports.

    “There’s been no major melt yet and no precipitation, and I don’t think they’re planning on changing anything unless we have significant, rapid melting or precipitation,” he said.

    Froeber, also Crookston’s fire chief, met with his Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) and ward captains Tuesday evening to discuss flood fight preparations currently underway in Crookston, as well as steps that will be taken once the Red Lake River begins to rise in earnest.

    Currently, accounting for normal temperatures and precipitation for this time of year, the NWS projects a 75 percent chance the Red Lake River will reach a level of 24.3 feet, and a 50 percent chance it will reach 26.9 feet. Crookston’s certified levee system protects the community from a river crest of 31 feet.

    The forecast for the next week looks to continue the favorable melt pattern, with daytime highs in the mid-30s to the mid-40s, and overnight lows well below 32 degrees.

Trouble spots

    Meanwhile, the melting snow is creating some headaches. At Ampride/Crookston Fuel, ponding water on Tuesday was being pumped out, as orange cones blocked some access points near the gas pumps.

    A bit further south on Highway 75, near American Crystal Sugar, the Minnesota Department of Transportation on Tuesday had a backhoe in the ditch clearing snow and ice to create a channel for runoff that was starting to fill the ditch.

    Reached by the Times, MnDOT District 2 Public Engagement Coordinator TJ Melcher said that area if often a problem spot during a normal spring melt, and the snowpack that still needs to melt this spring is not normal.

    “Each year we work pretty closely with the National Weather Service in order to monitor water levels and flood possibilities,” Melcher said. “Of course, this year the outlook is pretty elevated so MnDOT is preparing as best we can for flood-prone areas.”

    The ditches on Crookston’s south end have been a problem before.

    “This area of Highway 75 is more prone to water back-up anyway, so we’re trying to mitigate it as best we can,” Melcher continued. “This spot can back up after significant rain events as well.”