Rising waters in Minnesota

2001's Flood

Courtesy Eugene Dillenburg

When the Mississippi River flooded in 2001, the waters reached all the way to the Science Museum's Big Back Yard! This year's crest should be lower, but a warm and rainy March has made exact forecasts difficult.

A suddenly warm and rainy March after a cold, snowy winter might be a refreshing change of the seasons, but it can also have a disastrous effect: spring flooding.

The early days of March 2010 in Minnesota were some of the warmest on record for that time of year. Rapidly melting snow and early spring rain produce more water than the still-frozen ground can soak up. All that water has to go somewhere, so it flows into streams and storm sewers, and finally into the rivers, causing them to rise. And rise. And rise…

A front-row seat for the flood

The Red, Minnesota, and Crow Rivers are prone to heavy spring floods, but this year St. Paul might even see flooding. The high point, or crest, of Mississippi floodwaters could rise high enough to cover Harriet Island and Warner Road—almost to the Science Museum’s back yard! The river is predicted to crest just below 17 feet this year—far higher than the "normal" flood stage (8.6 feet), but still well below the floods St. Paul saw in 2001, where the two crests reached 23.76 and 23.6 feet. Harriet Island and the river road may stay high and dry this year after all, but only time will tell...