Archive for Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Winter storm latest test for Fargo’s levees

March 31, 2009


— A blizzard battered North Dakota on Monday, threatening to create wind-whipped waves that could lash the patchwork levee system that has shielded much of Fargo from the swollen Red River.

Engineers scrambled to shore up the dikes in hopes of averting the latest potential disaster nature has inflicted on this beleaguered city.

The winter storm was expected to bring up to a foot of snow and 30 mph winds that could weaken the levees with big waves. Officials acknowledged that no one knows whether the levees will withstand the punishment.

The Red River dropped to 38.80 feet Monday, nearly 2 feet below its peak but nearly 21 feet above flood stage. City officials have said they would breathe easier when the river falls to 36 or 37 feet or lower.

Authorities were not especially worried about the snowfall because flood levels will have dropped by the time it melts. But forecasters have warned all along that the river could still rise again. They believe the river could drop 2 more feet in the coming days before inching upward again.


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