A front row seat for the flood

Eugene Dillenberg

Philip C. Dittes

Here in St. Paul, the winter of 2010-2011 was one of the snowiest on record—we got some 80 inches of the white stuff. And cold temperatures kept nearly all of that water in our snowpack. But now things are warming up. 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…

Water everywhere
Early predictions gave a 48% chance that the river could crest higher than the historical high mark at 26.4 feet—hence the impressive flood wall behind the museum. But unusually cool temperatures slowed the melt, and the river crested Wednesday, 3/30, at 19.1 feet. (That makes 2011 the 8th highest flood of record.) However, there's still a lot of snow out there in the Upper Mississippi Basin, and the river is likely to crest a second time. How high will the second crest be? It depends on how quickly things warm up and whether or not we get any rain. Stay tuned...

You can watch this year's flood from the Science Museum's time-lapse camera. Or, better yet, view the flood in person from our Mississippi River Gallery. The museum is open and accessible every day from 9:30am to 9:30pm.

Follow us on Twitter for the most current water level (updated hourly).

2010 flood page