Climatic conditions

In the post-settlement era, no sequence of extreme precipitation events has impacted as much of the Upper Minnesota River and Red River basins as those experienced during the autumn of 1996 through the spring of 1997. The following events occurred:

Heavy autumn precipitation

  • Six or more inches in late October and November
  • Many areas four or more inches above normal, saturating the soil

Extraordinary winter snowfall

  • Most areas over six feet of snowfall; some over eight feet
  • Many areas two to three times the average snowfall
    • Fargo/Moorhead received 117 inches of snow as compared to its average of 39 inches and the previous seasonal record of 89 inches
  • 1996-97 snowfall exceeded 1896-97 snowfall by 25 to 50 percent in much of Minnesota's portion of the Red River basin

Heavy early spring precipitation

  • Two or more inches of precipitation (snow and rain) on April 5-6 in western Minnesota
    • Crookston received 3.63 inches. The previous 2-day April record was 2.35 inches
  • Normal precipitation for the month of April is less than two inches

April temperatures

  • Temperatures 10 degrees above normal for the first week of April and 20 degrees below normal the second week

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