Rain and rivers

by Liza on Sep. 30th, 2010

Alright, it's absolutely beautiful outside today. So what's up with this predicted flooding?

Remember all that rain the week of September 20th? (We got 2-4" here in the Twin Cities, but areas to the southwest of us got as much as 10".)

Rainfall map
Rainfall mapCourtesy National Weather Service

It all had to go somewhere, and that somewhere was the Minnesota River. Why does that affect us here in St. Paul? Take a look at another map:

St. Paul and the rivers
St. Paul and the riversCourtesy NASA (Landsat)

Remember: rivers don't necessarily flow south. The reddish line is the Minnesota River. The blue is the Mississippi. And that little blip just north of where the two rivers come together is downtown St. Paul. (The yellow elipse is the area of highest rainfall.)

All that rain is flowing right past us. And it should be impressive. The river's at 15.4' this morning (moderate flood stage), and predicted to crest at 18' (major flood stage) on Saturday morning. But the recent spate of lovely weather means that the flooding should pass quickly--today's prediction has the water level back under 17" by Monday morning.

St. Paul police have closed all the river roads and parks, and are discouraging people from walking down by the river. But you can get a stellar view of everything from outside the Museum on Kellogg Plaza, or inside the museum from the Mississippi River Gallery on level 5.

Your Comments, Thoughts, Questions, Ideas

Joe's picture
Joe says:

Liza, thanks for this, I was totally confused as to why rain to our south was impacting us.

posted on Thu, 09/30/2010 - 2:59pm
Shana's picture
Shana says:

I went for a walk with by the river with a coworker here at SMM. We saw a squirrel swimming in the river!

posted on Thu, 09/30/2010 - 3:10pm
Liza's picture
Liza says:

People are starting to send me their pictures. Here are a few from this afternoon.

Looking across the river (south) from SMM: On Tuesday afternoon, 4 steps were visible over at the boathouse. Yesterday afternoon there were three. Today, there's just the single step. The whole structure is designed to flood. And that's good, because that area of Harriet Island becomes submerged when the river reaches about 18 feet.
Looking across the river (south) from SMM: On Tuesday afternoon, 4 steps were visible over at the boathouse. Yesterday afternoon there were three. Today, there's just the single step. The whole structure is designed to flood. And that's good, because that area of Harriet Island becomes submerged when the river reaches about 18 feet.Courtesy Eric Mueller, SMM

posted on Thu, 09/30/2010 - 5:03pm
Liza's picture
Liza says:

Looking upstream: The upstream portion of Harriet Island goes under when the river reaches about 18 feet. Lilydale (on the far side of the river, further upstream, near the High Bridge) starts flooding at 14 feet.
Looking upstream: The upstream portion of Harriet Island goes under when the river reaches about 18 feet. Lilydale (on the far side of the river, further upstream, near the High Bridge) starts flooding at 14 feet.Courtesy Eric Mueller, SMM

posted on Thu, 09/30/2010 - 5:05pm
Liza's picture
Liza says:

SMM (north) side of the river: The walking path on the SMM side of the river is already partially under water.
SMM (north) side of the river: The walking path on the SMM side of the river is already partially under water.Courtesy Eric Mueller, SMM

posted on Thu, 09/30/2010 - 5:05pm
Liza's picture
Liza says:

Walking path, east of Eagle St.: True, it's just that section, but the river hasn't even reached 16 feet yet.
Walking path, east of Eagle St.: True, it's just that section, but the river hasn't even reached 16 feet yet.Courtesy Eric Mueller, SMM

posted on Thu, 09/30/2010 - 5:08pm
Liza's picture
Liza says:

Wide and fast: (insert your own joke here)
Wide and fast: (insert your own joke here)Courtesy Eric Mueller, SMM

posted on Thu, 09/30/2010 - 5:10pm
Liza's picture
Liza says:

Straight across
Straight acrossCourtesy Eric Mueller, SMM

posted on Thu, 09/30/2010 - 5:12pm
Liza's picture
Liza says:

Closed due to high water
Closed due to high waterCourtesy Eric Mueller, SMM

posted on Thu, 09/30/2010 - 5:14pm
Shana's picture
Shana says:

I love how they had to put a fence over it, as if the inundation weren't enough.

posted on Fri, 10/01/2010 - 9:39am
ARTiFactor's picture
ARTiFactor says:

"Inundation" - cool word!

posted on Sun, 10/03/2010 - 1:17pm

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