President Obama says potentially historic flood levels in North Dakota are a clear example of why steps need to be taken to stop global warming. Heavy rain and blizzards have caused eight rivers in the state to swell to flood levels and emergency management officials are warily watching the Red River, which could surpass record levels late this week.

"If you look at the flooding that's going on right now in North Dakota and you say to yourself, 'If you see an increase of two degrees, what does that do, in terms of the situation there?'" Obama told reporters at the White House Monday. "That indicates the degree to which we have to take this seriously."

Waters in the Red River were 33 feet this morning, according to CNN. That’s 15 feet above flood stage, and close to the record 41.1 feet set in April 1897, according to the network. The river could exceed those levels by Friday or Saturday, officials say.

"We're concerned about the rise of the river and how fast it's coming up, so our concern is that we're going to hit 41 feet,” Fargo Deputy Mayor Tim Mahoney told CNN.

The river runs through eastern North and South Dakota, as well as western Minnesota. Officials are worried it could crest in Fargo, which has more than 99,000 residents. Some 1,000 residents near Bismarck were evacuated last night because of flooding of the Missouri River, according to CNN.

Read more about Midwest floods, the relationship between global warming and winter storms and why climate change may lead to more natural disasters.

Image of sandbagging in North Dakota, uploaded March 24, 2009, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers via Flickr