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Weather Wednesday: Summer floods 1975 – InForum

Weather Wednesday: Summer floods 1975 – InForum

FARGO – The Red River has been very strong this spring and summer, but nearly 50 years ago our region was involved in a flood disaster.

It’s been a strange year for the Red River. After the Christmas ice storm and heavy rains last December, the river crested just above the minor flood mark of 19 feet on New Year’s Eve, rushing to the river in the middle of our mild winter. Since there wasn’t much snow this winter, we didn’t see a significant rise in the Red River from snowmelt this year, but after our relatively dry spell, the rains started pouring in and just didn’t let up in May and June.

At the end of the wet spring, the river rose to a low flood mark on Memorial Day, forcing pedestrian bridges to be raised and Elm Street to be closed. Since then, the Red River has crested three more times, on June 7, June 21 and July 1, but all of those flood levels remained within the low flood mark for Fargo.

These smaller alluvial events pale in comparison to what we experienced around July 4, 1975. Check out this video from nearly 50 years ago when the Red River crested at 33.5 feet – the highest level ever recorded during the summer months.

The historic summer river flooding followed heavy rains in late June, when southern Cass and northern Richland counties received 12 to 18 inches of rain over a three-day period, causing incredible flooding in Horace and West Fargo. The same storm system also spawned an F4 tornado near Felton, MN.

The summer peak of 1975 was the fourteenth highest peak ever recorded for Fargo.

You can read more information about this historic flood here.

Jesse Ritka

Jesse Ritka is a StormTracker meteorologist and AMS Certified Broadcast Meteorologist.