The water in the lower St. Croix River at Stillwater has risen about five feet in the past week. It is now almost at the expected crest, just below major flood designation. While the river plateaued at just under 689 feet above sea level on Tuesday, recent rains have driven another climb, with the National Weather Service now forecasting another half a foot or more by next Tuesday.
That all means there is a lot of water slowly flowing downstream. Parks and properties on its banks are flooded, islands are submerged, and the swollen river is carrying trees and other debris downstream.
Flooding is a natural and important part of the river ecosystem, important for replenishing islands, providing habitat, and maintaining channels for navigation. It can be worrisome for riverside residents, but is part of life for everything from humans to waterfowl.
The latest forecast calls for the river at Stillwater to top out at 689.7 feet above sea level at about 1 a.m. Tuesday, April 25. That would tie it for the sixth highest crest since modern record-keeping began, which the river previously reached in 1952. It will be well below the top crests of 694.10 feet in 1965, 692.30 in 2011, or 692.20 feet in 1969.
While river level measurements are based on a gage in Stillwater, the flooding affects the entire 25 miles of river from that point to Prescott. Hudson, Bayport, Afton, and other communities are all experiencing the high waters.
In Bayport, a neighborhood on the south end of town once known as Crocus Park is the site of some significant flood impacts. Townhomes along the river are flooded into their lower level garages and basements, with access driveways underwater. Garage doors have been left open to allow flood waters to pass freely through.
Low-lying streets in the neighborhood are also submerged, as is a large low area of Lakeside Park. Sandbags have been placed in some areas, sump pumps run around the clock, and cars are parked out of the water’s way.
In Hudson, the southern portion of Lakefront Park has been almost entirely inundated, and the dike is only a couple feet above water. The city’s public boat launch and park area on the south end of the park are also underwater and closed.
Afton/Lake St. Croix Beach/Lakeland
Marine on St. Croix