March 20 update: Flood forecast has been downgraded, no speed limitations are in effect on the St. Croix, but please use caution. Original post follows.
Thanks to Jeff Anderson of 45 Degrees sporting goods store in Stillwater
for the up-t0-the-minute photos!
There are more icebergs in the St. Croix than boats right now, but those few hardy sailors navigating the river will need to keep their speed down for the near future. With the stretch of the St. Croix south of Taylors Falls verging on minor flood stage, no-wake levels are imminent.
The National Weather Service predicts the river at Stillwater will reach 683′ sea level sometime Sunday morning. At that stage, rules state that boats must maintain the slowest possible speed to maintain steerage, but no greater than 5 mph. Boaters who violate the limit can be ticketed and fined.
The St. Croix high water no-wake rules were put in place in 1986 for the 52 miles of river from the dam at Taylors Falls to Prescott. The restrictions help protect boaters from floating hazards and strong river currents. It also reduces erosion on the banks – especially islands which are more vulnerable to damage from wakes during high water.
The river is forecasted to peak at 683.5′ by Monday and pass back under the no-wake level by Wednesday. Once it drops under 683′, the restrictions are lifted but boaters are cautioned to watch for flood debris and reduce wakes to prevent shoreline erosion.
The National Weather Service website provides almost real-time information about the water level at Stillwater.