Flood forecasting a tough job

Flood forecasting a tough job Click to Enlarge Photo:

May 6, 2013 at 6:46 am

FARGO, N.D. (AP) Predicting what a river will do has never been easy, and this spring's flood scare in Fargo proved that all over again.

The National Weather Service projected the Red River might go as high as 40 feet. Fargo spent some $2 million in sandbagging and other preparations _ only to see the Red top out at a harmless 33 feet.

Forecasters look at many factors, including rainfall, snowpack, water in the snow and even how fast a river is flowing.

This year's forecast was more difficult because it came nearly a month later than usual due to persistent wintry conditions. A long drought was another factor. Forecasters had to try to figure out where the ground was thawing and estimate how much water was soaking into the ground.  

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