It may not be the mighty Mississippi or the raging Red, but the "little river that could" will not be denied this year.
Of all the stories during this week of flood watching, the south fork of Crow River is the most interesting to me. Earlier this week the river was forecast to crest Wednesday at 15 feet in Mayer. That forecast has been updated as the week progressed, but the Crow had other ideas. As of Thursday morning the Crow River still has not crested at Mayer, and stands at a level of 16.03 feet.
This marks the 5th highest flood of record on the Crow at Mayer so far, just shy of the 16.05 ft on 04/07/1997. Here are the top 10 floods of record on the Crow at Mayer.
Historical Crests: Crow River at Mayer
(1) 19.23 ft on 04/13/1965
(2) 16.50 ft on 04/14/2001
(3) 16.48 ft on 04/11/1969
(4) 16.05 ft on 04/07/1997
(5) 16.02 ft on 3/18/2010** (so far)
(6) 16.00 ft on 06/23/1957
(7) 15.70 ft on 04/10/1952
(8) 13.93 ft on 05/04/1986
(9) 13.90 ft on 04/30/1975
(10) 13.76 ft on 04/05/1979
Deep snowpack feeds the Crow:
The main reason the Crow is defying forecasters this year lies in the deep snowpack that has bracketed the river's watershed this year. Some of the heaviest snow bands have fallen in the upper reaches of the south fork of the Crow River near Cosmos this winter. Looking at today's NOHRSC image below, you can still see some snow cover southeast of Willmar and east of Olivia in the upper Crow river watershed which includes Buffalo Creek.
The good news is the Crow will likely begin to fall in Mayer today or tomorrow. It remains to be seen how well the river behaves downstream in Watertown, Delano and Rockford.
Steve Schaefer lives in Moorhead on the river. After last year's flood, he and his family made some changes to lower their risk of flooding.
Thanks to the work we did over last summer (filling in our walk-out basement, new landscaping), we're not worrying too much about our home. Our new landscaping takes us above 40' of protection. That means that as long as there are no changes to the crest level, we should not have to sandbag this year. I may need to put down some plastic to cover the fresh soil so it doesn't erode when the water gets up to it, but that will be far easier than building a dike. Hallelujah!
The flood fight is much more organized and coordinated this year. Part of that is due to a predicted crest about 3 feet lower than last year, but the other part is that we've all been anticipating this flood since early in the winter. Both Moorhead and Fargo have done a great job with the upgrades that have been made for city-wide flood protection and the decision by each city to start pre-filling sandbags three weeks ago has paid off immensely.
Living through the floods definitely gives one a great respect for the power of nature and how we have to live in tune with our environment. During the flood last year, there were extreme moments of concern, but the camaraderie of the community effort is something that I will value and remember always. It would not have been possible to successfully protect our home and our community without the incredible effort of everyone in the community as well as all the volunteers from outside Fargo-Moorhead who gave time and effort to help us out.
Hydrologists at the River Forecast Center in the Twin Cities have raised the forecast crest for the Mississippi again. Today's latest updated raised the expected crest of the Mississippi River in St. Paul next Wednesday to 19.8 feet. That's an increase of 1.8 feet from Wednesday's forecast.
If the river reaches 19.8 feet as forecast, that would be the 7th highest flood of record for the Mississippi in St. Paul.
Historical Crests: Mississippi River at St. Paul
(1) 26.01 ft on 04/16/1965
(2) 24.52 ft on 04/15/1969
(3) 23.76 ft on 04/18/2001
(4) 23.60 ft on 04/30/2001
(5) 22.37 ft on 04/13/1997
(6) 22.02 ft on 04/16/1952
(7) 19.15 ft on 06/26/1993
(8) 18.79 ft on 04/16/1951
(9) 16.68 ft on 06/29/1957
(10) 16.10 ft on 05/16/1986
The surprising rises on the Crow River may be one reasons NWS is boosting the crest at St. Paul. Stay tuned into early next week as we watch to see just how high the mighty Mississippi will go.
Posted at 5:08 PM on March 18, 2010
by Melanie Sommer
Filed under: Mississippi River
The City of St. Paul has released an update on its plans for street closures in the downtown area near the Mississippi River due to high water.
The City's Public Works Department will begin hauling materials over the weekend to build a temporary levee at Jackson and Sibley on Shepard, which will protect the Lowertown neighborhood.
"The best points of entry for downtown will be from I-35E and from I-94. MnDOT will display messages on their existing variable message signs, information regarding the closures on the northbound lanes of I-35E south of the river and, if needed on the westbound lanes along I-94 beginning Saturday morning."
The city's flood preparation site is here.
The latest information on road closures is here. .
Posted at 11:46 PM on March 18, 2010
by Melanie Sommer
Filed under: Flooding
The University of Minnesota Extension says it's set up a system of online and phone answer resources for people who have flood-related questions.
The extension's flood impact Web site has information on flood response, safety and cleanup questions -- like how to clean out a basement that's been flooded, and how to deal with septic systems.
You can also get information over the phone on the extension's flood information line (1-800-232-9077) and the answer line (1-800-854-1678).