Minnesota prepares for major flooding after snowy winter

While authorities expect most of Minnesota to remain clear of severe flooding conditions, they still warn that above-average rainfall and snowmelt may still pose a significant risk.
  • Emergency managers warn that while they expect Minnesota to avoid severe flooding in the majority of its areas, post-winter melt or increased rain levels could increase the risk.
  • Officials are stockpiling sandbags and building dikes. They have also closed low-lying areas.
  • Dan Hawblitzel, a Twin Cities meteorologist, said: “Right Now we are entering the peak we hope will be of this event. This should occur over the next seven to ten days.” “That’s assuming – and that’s an assumption – that we have no other significant sources of rainfall.” Unfortunately, we cannot guarantee this.

The majority of Minnesota is expected to avoid serious flooding in the next two weeks, according to emergency managers. However, they warned that rains greater than anticipated in the days ahead or rapid melting snow in the Red River Valley may increase the risk.

Dan Hawblitzel is the meteorologist at the National Weather Service, Chanhassen. “That’s assuming – and that’s an assumption – that we have no other significant sources of rainfall.” Unfortunately, we cannot guarantee this.

He and other officials told reporters at a press briefing on Minnesota’s preparations for floods that the communities and themselves have been preparing since weeks. The state has been storing sandbags and building dikes. They have also closed low-lying parks and roads, and implemented action plans that were developed after previous floods. They also said that state and federal agencies were ready to offer more assistance if needed.



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The good news is that the preparation has been done,” said Gov. Tim Walz said. “We are ready to go.”

Minnesota has just experienced one of the snowiest winters in its history — the third-most snowiest for the Twin Cities. Hawblitzel, however, said that the snow has “pretty well disappeared across the majority of the state.” He said the Red River Basin is the “notable exception” where pockets of snow still contain the equivalent of one to three inches of water. He added, however, that forecasters do not expect a rapid melting in the Red River basin.

In Minnesota, higher-than-average rain and rapid meltdowns after winter may increase the risk of severe floods. (AP Photo/AbbieParr)

Hawblitzel stated that the St. Croix River in Stillwater “basically levels off” and will remain steady until it begins to fall gradually early next week depending on whether there is significant rainfall next week.

From the weekend until early next week, the Mississippi River in St. Paul is expected to be at major flooding stage. He said that they will be closely monitoring the situation because of the fact that the Mississippi River at St. Paul is affected by rainfall upstream in the Minnesota River and Mississippi River basins. Heavier-than-expected rain Wednesday night and Thursday, or later next week, could push the crest up by a foot higher than forecast, he said.



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He said that the Red River of the North in Fargo-Moorhead, “probably has the greatest uncertainty” because of the snow on the ground, and the susceptibility of the river to more rain. They can’t exclude a crest of one foot or even slightly higher, depending on the precipitation and melting patterns.

Hawblitzel stated, “If we get through next week then it looks like we will be able get through this.”

On the North Dakotaside of the Red River such as Fargo, Grand Forks and La Crosse in Wisconsin, communities have been preparing as well. North Dakota Gov. Doug Burgum declared an emergency statewide last week. His office announced Wednesday that drones provided by the Federal Aviation Administration would assist in monitoring flood levels and melt rates, as well as ice jams.



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In a briefing, the Minnesota Department of Health urged private well owners to be prepared for flooding or to have their wells already flood. Cheryl Petersen Kroeber, assistant commissioner at the Minnesota Department of Health, said that flood waters can contain hazardous and toxic substances. She said that the flood water in wells should be assumed to be contaminated. The water should not even be used to brush teeth or cook until it has been disinfected. The Department has posted its advice on their website.

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