Dike construction, April 6, 2023. (Greg Seitz/St. Croix 360)
The city of Stillwater has nearly completed work on a nearly half-mile long dike along its riverfront, as the St. Croix River begins a spring flood that could be historic. With help from volunteer sandbaggers, city crews and contractors have constructed a wall stretching from the Dock Café on the south end to Stillwater Marina on the north.
The dike is constructed with sand hauled in from Miller Excavating’s quarry near the Boom Site, and shaped with bulldozers and compactors. The sand is then covered with sheets of plastic, which are held down by sandbags. Concrete Jersey barriers are also used to fortify the construction.
Forecasts for high water have continued to hold as melting has begun. This week, the St. Croix finally started climbing and is anticipated to jump up sharply in the days ahead. Between this Sunday and next Thursday, the National Weather Service predicts the St. Croix will rise about three feet, with no signs of slowing down.
The federal agency sees a 50 percent chance the river will hit about 691 feet above sea level, pushing into what is considered a major flood. There is an approximately 80 percent chance it will reach the threshold of 689 feet above sea level. That would put it in the top five floods of the past century or so.
|1||April 18, 1965||94.10 ft|
|2||April 27, 2001||92.30 ft|
|3||April 16, 1969||92.20 ft|
|4||April 12, 1997||90.45 ft|
|5||April 14, 1952||89.70 ft|
|6||March 31, 2019||88.48 ft|
|7||June 28, 1993||87.90 ft|
|8||June 27, 2014||87.63 ft|
|9||April 6, 1986||87.50 ft|
|10||April 30, 1975||87.30 ft|
Under the most likely peak scenarios, expected impacts could include flooding of Bayport’s Lakeside Park and overtopping of the dam gates on the Willow River’s outlet at Lake Mallalieu. A little higher, and Highway 95 between Afton and Bayport could be affected.
The city of Bayport recently announced it has about 2,500 sandbags available for citizens to use to protect their property. Sandbagging is planned to continue. Xcel Energy is also monitoring the situation and will remove gas and electric meters if they are threatened by flood waters.
As for timing, the greatest chance of a peak comes during the week of April 17. The highest water, worst case scenario shows a 10 to 25 percent chance of hitting 693 feet above sea level sometime between April 10 and 24.