Water Resources of the United States

PROJECT ALERT NOTICE (MN) Flooding in Minnesota

Date: Mon, 16 Jun 2014 14:15:15 EDT

Summary: Major flooding is occurring in northern and southwestern Minnesota, with additional rain forecast.

Contact: James Fallon USGS, Mounds View, MN; MN WSC
Phone: 763-783-3255 cell 612-718-2948
Email: jfallon@usgs.gov

Major flooding is occurring in northern and southwestern Minnesota. Prior to this weekend, many streams statewide were flowing in the upper-quartile to 95th-percentile for this time of year, with some setting daily high-flow records. Lakes statewide are unusually high with many “no wake” restrictions posted to protect shoreline properties. Additional rains fell over the weekend, some locally heavy. The 5-day quantitative precipitation forecast includes up to 6 inches additional rain in southern Minnesota, with lesser but substantial amounts statewide.

In northern Minnesota the most significant flooding is occurring in the Rainy River basin along the Canadian Border. Previous 5-day rainfall totals range from 3-6 inches. Small municipalities and local recreational outfits have been affected according to reports from the National Weather Service (NWS): At Loman, State Highway 11 is closed and homes and the Fire Hall are sand bagged. There are additional reports of sandbagging near the mouth of the Littlefork River. To the east, many resorts are sandbagging on Rainy Lake and docks are being weighted down. There are numerous reports of damage to docks and boats. Discharges from Rainy Lake are regulated under “rule curves” governed by the International Joint Commission of the United States and Canada, but as of last week flows from Rainy Lake were close to exceeding rates that could be regulated.

To date, four streamgages will exceed peaks of record, including two with long-term records: 05133500 Rainy River at Manitou Rapids (85 years of record; http://waterdata.usgs.gov/nwis/uv?site_no=05133500 ) and 05129290 Gold Portage Outlet from Kabetogama Lk (28 years of record; http://waterdata.usgs.gov/nwis/uv?site_no=05129290 ). Annual exceedance probabilities of current discharges from these gages are approximately one percent. Streamgages that will have peaks of record with less than 5 years of record include 05129515 Rainy River at boat landing below International Falls and 05137500 Rainy River near boat landing at Wheeler's Point, MN.

In southwest Minnesota, flooding is occurring in the Missouri River and Minnesota River Basins where up to 6 inches of rain fell over the weekend. The USGS has few telemetered gages in this part of Minnesota, but crest-stage gages are being inspected for needed measurements.

USGS flood activities include field operations and communicating with the NWS, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Water Survey of Canada, Minnesota Department of Natural Resources, and Minnesota Homeland Security-Emergency Management. Field staff deployed for flooding currently includes one team from each field office in Mounds View and Grand Rapids, MN. Activities include making flood measurements, inspecting gages for damages or for flagging high water marks. Field plans for today and tomorrow include measurements at the streamgages mentioned above.

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