Flood Predicting Is Tough, Reams Of Data Notwithstanding

FARGO, N.D. (May 5, 2013)--Predicting what a river will do has never been easy, and this spring's flood scare in Fargo, N.D., proves it.

The National Weather Service projected the Red River might rise as high as 40 feet.

Fargo spent some $2 million in sandbagging and other preparations and then watched as the river topped 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 to predict floods.

This year's forecast was more difficult because it came nearly a month later than usual because of 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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