Saturated soil and a heavy snowpack have increased the chances of major flooding on the Red River in North Dakota.

The U.S. National Weather Service issued it's first flood forecast of the year on Friday and is predicting above average snowfall for the rest of the winter, increasing the chances of flooding on the Red River.

Areas in the northern part of Red River Valley are at significant risk, especially to the north of Grand Forks near Oslo, Minnesota, and Pembina, North Dakota, according to meteorologist Greg Gust.

"Last summer and fall, a lot of areas were pretty wet including areas across north central and northeast North Dakota into northwest Minnesota and right up into Manitoba. So, as the Red River pushes up through the Pembina gates, we're looking at a potential for a major flood level. Now, how that level translates into flow is something that we coordinate with hydrologists in southern Manitoba as well."

Manitoba flood forecasters are expected to release their first flood forecast of the year on Monday.

With so much snow this year, some have wondered if we might get close to the flood levels of 1997. Gust stated that's unlikely and suggests there is only a 5 per cent chance of that kind of event occurring this spring based on their numbers at Pembina.

"Right now we're looking at a risk pushing closely to the type of flows that were coming through Pembina back in 2011. So, somewhere between a 1996 and 2011 type flow, which is pretty significant," said Gust. "Now one thing to note about 2011 is that there was a lot of water that came through but it came through over a longer period of time so that the crest coming through Pembina wasn't as high as the 1997 flood, but the actual physical volume of water was actually higher."

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