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Second crest at Wahpeton expected to be 17 feet

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The Red River crested at Wahpeton, N.D.-Breckenridge, Minn., just before midnight Monday, with the latest outlook projecting it will embark on a new rise shortly and top off at 17 feet late Thursday, half a foot lower than earlier forecasts.

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Ice on the Red in that area is making it especially unpredictable, and the National Weather Service warned of possible rapid fluctuations.

The 16.49-foot crest the river hit late Monday is mainly the result of local runoff and flow from the Otter Tail River. The second high will come as peak flow from the Bois de Sioux River makes its way through the Wahpeton area in coming days.

"The additional amount of water coming in will cause the rise," said Bill Barrett of the National Weather Service.

After reaching a record level of 20.1 feet Monday, water in the diversion at Breckenridge dropped to about 19.8 feet, said Wilkin County Engineer Tom Richels. His team continues monitoring ice on the diversion and the Red, which made little movement overnight.

"We won't be able to relax until that's gone," he said.

The new forecast, involving a lower crest, was good news, Richels said: "It still keeps our heightened concern up, but it's manageable."

Wilkin County is making repairs at 35 sites on county roads, about half of what it dealt with at this stage in the flood fight last year. About a dozen county roads remain closed.

In Richland County, N.D., 16 bridges, seven or eight county roads and a number of township roads are closed, said Brett Lambrecht, the county emergency management director. His team is keeping an eye on minor overland flooding and an icy Wild Rice River.

"Right now, we're monitoring river levels, and things are looking pretty good," Lambrecht said.

It's too early to speculate what the fluctuations of the Red at Wahpeton-Breckenridge might spell for the Fargo-Moorhead area, Barrett said. Additional contributions from the Wild Rice and Maple rivers as well as snowmelt can affect Red levels significantly before it reaches the metro.

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