Floods are possible in southern MN in the next week; MDA advises preparation and planning

Written by Jonathan Eisenthal

Flooding is a distinct possibility in southern Minnesota in the next week, according to the latest hydrologic forecasts from the National Weather Service. Minnesota Department of Agriculture has sent out advisories to remind farmers and agriculture related businesses of the information and the host of services available to help deal with flood preparation, or with damage and clean up in the aftermath of flooding.

“Now is the time, if you need to sandbag or dike bins and other facilities on the farm to make sure floodwater doesn’t cause damage,” said Greg Schwarz, a farmer in Le Sueur and president of Minnesota Corn Growers Association. “If you need to move grain to different facilities, you have to leave adequate time — you may have to take longer routes with spring road restrictions coming into effect. Rising floodwater could also close bridges and other roadways this year so it’s good to get a jump on this.”

MDA has published a number of fact sheets to help farm operators plan for the protection of seed, inputs and equipment. Other fact sheets provide information about financial and advisory services applicable before and after flooding takes place. These fact sheets can be found at http://www.mda.state.mn.us/en/protecting/floodinfo.aspx

The latest flood information for your area can be found at the Minnesota Enhanced Flood Forecast/Warning System website:
http://www.dnr.state.mn.us/waters/surfacewater_section/stream_hydro/floodwarning.html

“Appreciable rises (are expected) on the Cottonwood and Redwood Rivers, on the Minnesota River between Mankato and Henderson, South Fork of the Crow and Crow Rivers–flood stage could be experienced as early as this weekend and into next week on these rivers,” according to the March 17 report from the Advanced Hydrologic Prediction Service (National Weather Service).

These flood forecasts have been made possible through the installation of 38 advanced stream gages around the state, as well as significant upgrades to five existing gages monitored by the US Geologic Survey.

The forecast says cold air arriving in the coming week may avert flooding in the near term: “Models indicate a surge of cold air with the system on Tuesday and into Friday….likely that we will have a snow event…a more optimistic solution than a rain event as it will not immediately run off into the rivers.”

Though water levels are expected to rise on the Minnesota River downstream from Shakopee and on the Mississippi River south of Saint Paul, the National Weather Service states that “a great deal of uncertainty still exists in the timing and rate of rises…so forecasts are not yet available.”

The arrival of cold air and the possibility of further snow accumulation mean this may not be the final melt, the weather service said, adding that the state’s more northerly river systems will see slower rises due to the cold weather and there is no prediction of flooding in the near term for the Long Prairie, Sauk, Upper Mississippi, Eau Claire and Chippewa Rivers. The only exception among these systems is Fall Creek on the Eau Claire River, “which may approach flood stage,” the weather service said.

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