St. Croix River raging after heavy rains hit tributaries

Several inches of rain falling on the river’s upper watershed has caused flooding damage and high water on the lower river.




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Several inches of rain fell on parts of the upper St. Croix River watershed Sunday night and Monday, with more precipitation during the rest of the week, leading to extremely high water on the river.

Four to five inches fell in a very short time on the watersheds of the Snake, Kettle, and other St. Croix River tributaries.

“Torrential rain this morning over saturated soils has led to a flood watch being issued for east central Minnesota into northwest Wisconsin until Noon,” the National Weather Service warned on Monday.

Repeating history

The agency called it a “200-year rainstorm,” which has a probability of occurring once every two centuries.

“Steve Gohde, hydrologist with the National Weather Service in Duluth, said radar indicated rainfall totals of between 5-6 inches within six hours from the northeastern corner of Mille Lacs Lake to the Pattison Ridge area of Douglas County. It was the intensity of the rainfall that made it a 200-year storm along that line, he said,” reported the Duluth News Tribune.

The most rain recorded in gauges were all in the St. Croix River watershed: 5.07 inches in Moose Lake, 5 inches at Kettle River, 4.7 inches near Solon Springs, and 4.3 inches near Holyoke.

High water worries

The rain left many roads covered in water, with washouts affecting communities that have been hit by repeated infrastructure-busting storms in recent years.

The Kettle River near Sandstone rose about seven feet in the span of 24 hours.

The Snake River near Mora saw a similar steep rise:

A day later, the St. Croix at St. Croix Falls also jumped up approximately seven feet.

The river at Stillwater exceed 683′ this morning, so the whole St. Croix is now under no-wake rules. It’s the first time the river hit that level since June.

Slow-No Wake means “the operation of a watercraft at the slowest possible speed necessary to maintain steerage, and in no case greater than five miles per hour.” The rule protects boaters from hazardous floating debris and river currents, and helps reduce damage to shorelines, levees, and islands which are more vulnerable during high water.

Conditions call for caution

The Saint Croix National Scenic Riverway cautioned that the Namekagon and Upper St. Croix are running very high as a result, and present dangerous conditions.

“River users should keep in mind that the river is running fast and cold right now, and hypothermia is a real risk,” the National Park Serviced warned. “Floating debris may be an issue. Beginner and novice paddlers should avoid the river under high water conditions.”

The day-use area at Osceola Landing, including the roads, parking lots, and shelters, is closed due to high water, but the boat landing and parking area are still open.

More rain is expected to hit Friday night and Saturday, with a “potent and progressive system” moving through the region.

If heading out on the river, be sure to check current river conditions before launching.


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St. Croix River raging after heavy rains hit tributaries