Low chance of high water this flood season

Forecasts call for slight rise in river levels, while there is hope drought will lift by mid-summer.




2 minute read

Flooding in Stillwater, March 2019 (Greg Seitz/St. Croix 360)

The forecast for spring flooding on the St. Croix River this year is relatively unexciting. The National Weather Service predicts less than a 25 percent chance waters will reach even the minor flooding level measured at Stillwater.

The most significant possibility is that it’s likely the river could hit a height at which no-wake rules go into effect. But for the coming week, it’s expected to level out below no-wake levels.

Forecast data

Click charts to view larger

The river was historically low last summer during the drought, and remained that way at freeze-up. It is now being recharged somewhat by snowmelt, and has risen to at least a typical summer level. Much of the region is still in mild drought.

Map by St. Croix 360/Data: NOAA, USGS

“By March 26, another fast-moving low pressure system is expected to sweep in behind the Great Lakes system to help push it out to sea by the weekend. Following the passage of these storm systems, colder air is likely across northeastern and north-central parts of the U.S., starting on March 26, with maximum temperature anomalies expected to be anywhere from 10°F to 20°F below normal across parts of the Midwest.

“Above-normal precipitation is favored for much of the eastern two-thirds of the CONUS, as a storm system is expected to intensify and move eastward across U.S. during the period.”

Modified from the U.S. Drought Monitor’s National Drought Summary for March 22, 2022, NOAA

There is reportedly significant snowpack still on the ground in the upper watershed, which should continue to contribute water to the rivers.

The National Weather Service recently issued a long-term drought forecast, saying at least part of the watershed could be removed from drought classification by the end of June.


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Low chance of high water this flood season