Stories tagged flooding

Yesterday, Mayor Coleman declared a "state of local emergency." The declaration clears the way for the City to start tracking flood-related expenses, in the hopes of getting some of them reimbursed. And there will be lots of expenses this year. There's a 50% chance of a record crest (beating the high water mark of 26.4' in 1965), and a 70% of a crest above 17'. Workers at the downtown airport began installing the flood wall yesterday, and residents of Lowertown and the Upper Landing are being asked to have a plan in case they're evacuated. The lower portion of Lilydale Regional Park, parts of Harriet Island, and the low-lying areas of Shepard/Warner Road will likely be submerged.

With several days of above-freezing temperatures and some rain in the forecast, the National Weather Service expects we could start to see flooding in downtown St. Paul by the weekend.

Visit the City of St. Paul flood preparation page, or check out the Science Buzz 2011 flood feature.

Oh, and here's our shot-a-day rivercam, and our hourly-image feed.

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.

It's been a crazy couple of days of rain.

Rainfall map
Rainfall mapCourtesy National Weather Service

Forecasters say it's mostly over, although we can expect some rainfall through Saturday. But rain upstream swells the rivers downstream, and flood watches and warnings are in effect for much of Minnesota. Here in downtown St. Paul, the river is expected to rise about ten feet over the next week.

"1128 am CDT Fri Sep 24 2010

The Flood Warning continues for the Mississippi River at St Paul.

  • At 10:15 am Friday the stage was 6.8 feet.
  • Moderate flooding is forecast.
  • Flood stage is 14.0 feet.
  • Forecast... rise above flood stage by early Wednesday morning and continue to rise to near 16.4 feet by early Friday morning.
  • Impact... at 18.0 feet... Warner Road may become impassable due to high water.
  • Impact... at 17.5 feet... Harriet Island begins to become submerged.
  • Impact... at 17.0 feet... secondary flood walls are deployed at St Paul Airport.
  • Impact... at 14.0 feet... portions of the Lilydale park area begin to experience flooding.
  • Flood history... this crest compares to a previous crest of 18.4 feet on Mar 24 2010."

Still with me? Then check out Buzz coverage of the March 2010 flood along the Mississippi.


Here is a link to the BBC photo coverage of a devastating mud slide in China.

For videos, You Tube has a Chinese TV coverage of the Gansu, China landslide

In searching for links I discovered Dave's Landslide Blog by Dave Petley, who is the Wilson Professor of Hazard and Risk in the Department of Geography at Durham University in the United Kingdom. Check it out if you want to learn something.


Harriet Island March 15: A photo of Harriet Island from March 15, 2010
Harriet Island March 15: A photo of Harriet Island from March 15, 2010Courtesy Sharon Stiteler

I took this photo of Harriet Island in St. Paul on Monday, March 15, 2010 in anticipation of the rising waters of the Mississippi River. The flood forecast seems to change daily, if not hourly. As of Sunday morning, March 21, 2010 NOAA had the river at 16.3 feet, well above the 14 foot flood stage. You will notice in the above photo that the stairs to the river are still visible.

Harriet Stairs: The Mississippi River rising along the stairs at Harriet Island.
Harriet Stairs: The Mississippi River rising along the stairs at Harriet Island.Courtesy Sharon Stiteler

This morning, they were covered. This park visitor perched at the top to capture a photo of the rising water. The current is very fast and there's still quite a bit of debris flowing along.

Padleford Boats: Padleford boats being protected from debris during the 2010 Spring flood.
Padleford Boats: Padleford boats being protected from debris during the 2010 Spring flood.Courtesy Sharon Stiteler

Barges have been placed in front of the Padleford boats to protect them from debris. Here's a video of the current and some of the debris that has been blocked from banging the boats.

It will be interesting to watch the water this week. If you are in St Paul to watch the flood, stop in to the Mississippi River Visitor Center in the lobby of the Science Museum and chat with a Ranger about it.


For hundreds of years, thousands of people have connected with the Mississippi River. Today, we sometimes forget that the Mississippi is always flowing through our fair cities, at least until it floods.

In this moment, the river can be an extraordinarily humanizing resource. When we stand together on the Science Museum's plaza, peek over the rails on Kellogg Blvd.'s parkland, or sit near the steps on Harriet Island, all gazing at the flooding river, we are not accountants, scientists, or novelists but everyday people witnessing an event that still produces the same awe, fear, romance, or dread that thousands of people for hundreds of years before us have experienced when they too watched or experienced a flood.

In future posts, my colleagues and I will chat about the impact of flooding on the Mississippi's landscape and try providing some historical perspectives on river floods.

If you'd like to learn more about our National Park Service unit, the Mississippi National River and Recreation Area, please visit us at

-Ranger Brian

Check out our full feature on the 2010 Mississippi River flooding.

Volunteers in Fargo have been busy this week - they've placed 700,000 sandbags along the river, which should protect them from a flood of up to 40 feet. The rivers in North Dakota have also been busy — they've been tweeting.

Using data from the National Weather Service, these Twitter accounts are set up to pull in current river levels from several locations along a few different rivers: (James River in Jamestown, ND) (Sheyenne River in Valley City, ND) (Red River in Grand Forks, ND) (Red River in Fargo, ND) (Red River in Oslo, MN)

Check out our full feature on the 2010 Mississippi River flooding.