Multiple flood warnings are in effect as rivers overflow
A snowy start to spring and a rainy April brought us out of drought conditions, but it didn’t stop there.
“We really have not had a good dry out period where the soil has been able to absorb a little dry out and then be able to be ready to handle a lot more water,” explained NWS Warning Meteorologist Joe Moore. “The soil right now is very what we call hydrophobic. That water is hitting the already wet soil when it’s raining and it’s running right off into our rivers and streams.”
With this saturated ground, river levels are higher than they usually are this time of year.
“We’re seeing water levels in our area creeks and streams that we usually see at their highest in the month of April when we have the snow melt,” said Moore. “However, with all of the additional rainfall that we had in April and how cool it remained, we didn’t have a lot of snow that melted. We’re seeing levels that are definite recent historic peaks, and in some cases, we’re seeing the top two, three highest levels we’ve ever observed on some of these rivers and streams.”
A flood warning is in effect for the St. Louis river in Scanlon, with moderate flooding forecasted. The Mississippi River in Aitkin is also under a flood warning, affecting portions of Crow Wing and Aitkin counties. The Rainy River Basin is under a flood warning as well, but it will take much longer to get back to normal.
“It’s going to be a slow moving situation where we might have flooding that lasts on the order of weeks,” said Moore. “We will probably still be dealing with some flooding in June, and then if we see heavy rainfall, it could continue even longer.”
Some people are using sand bags or putting heavy barrels on docks to mitigate the flood risk, but really, the weather is what will determine how much worse the flooding gets.
“The best thing that could happen for the next couple of weeks would be that we have near to below normal precipitation,” Moore remarked. “We don’t want to see a drought obviously like we had last summer, but it would be nice to be in a little bit below normal rainfall situation.”
Lake Vermillion, Vermillion River, Basswood, Kawishiwi, and Crane Lake currently have record high levels, causing flooding and dock damage. These levels are expected to continue to rise until May 20 before slowly decreasing.
Namakan Lake is exceeeding the 2014 record and is expected to rise an additional seven to nine inches, reaching a crest in late May.
Rainy Lake’s high lake level is also causing flooding and dock damage. It is expected to rise 11 to 13 inches between May 13 and May 20 and continue rising through late May.
More information, including the latest lake levels, can be found at https://www.weather.gov/dlh/rainyriverbasin