Thank you to pilot Alex Murphy for sharing this video of the St. Croix River during its current freak flood. Murphy made the video while flying upriver on Friday, July 15.
The river crested at the dam on Friday at 1 p.m. with a measured flow of 52,800 cubic feet per second (cfs). That’s 24 million gallons per minute. The usual flow this time of year is about 3,000 cfs.
Alex also shared these photos on Twitter:
Down on the ground, Scandia Now produced this video tour of several well-known locations along the same stretch of river, recording scenes of flood waters “at an unusual time of year”:
KARE 11 reporter Dylan Wohlenhaus visited P.D. Pappy’s in Stillwater and talked with people who were amazed by the rising waters, and grateful they were not interfering with Lumberjack Days.
Climate change connection
Extreme rainstorms are increasing due to climate change. Warmer temperatures mean more energy and moisture on the atmosphere, causing a steep rise in “superstorms” like the one that caused this week’s flooding on the St. Croix River.
The U.S. Geological Society reported that the Kettle River, a main tributary of the St. Croix, was running at its second-highest recorded level in 50 years this week. The record was set after the huge storms of June 2012.
The Upper Midwest has seen a 37% increase in the amount of precipitation falling in very heavy events between 1958 and 2012, according to the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency.
This chart from the National Climatic Data Center shows the same trend nation-wide:
The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources reports that almost half of the 12 biggest rainstorms in Minnesota’s post-settlement history have come in the past 16 years.
“Using newspaper accounts, diaries, and the historical climate record, twelve such events in Minnesota’s post-settlement history have been identified. Of particular note is that five of those twelve events have occurred since 2000.”