Flooding impacts felt as deluge continues in Minnesota

From road closings to soaked farm fields, Minnesotans are feeling the impact of incessant rains in recent days that have drenched the state, and it's far from over.

More storms with potentially heavy rain were expected Tuesday night across much of the state, the National Weather Service said. NWS issued a special weather statement warning of 50 mph winds about 8:30 p.m. for Owatonna, Albert Lea and Waseca.

"Most storms that will be experienced [Tuesday] evening will contain frequent lightning and heavy rain, which could lead to localized flooding," NWS tweeted around 8 p.m. "An isolated strong/severe storm cannot be ruled out."

Search-and-rescue crews were working in the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness to reach a 9-year-old boy who was struck by a tree that fell during a storm, the Cook County Sheriff's said in a news release. He will most likely be evacuated by boat, the Sheriff's Office said.

NWS issued flash-flood warnings from around Duluth all the way up the North Shore, and flood warnings in a large swath around Hibbling and International Falls. The warnings extend through the night.

For the latest on road impacts and closures due to flooding, go to MNDOT 511.

Another system moving in will bring up to 4 more inches of rain Thursday through Saturday, filling rivers, streams and creeks and pushing them over their banks, the National Weather Service said.

"River flooding will worsen through the week with moderate to major flooding at some locations," the NWS said.

NWS issued a flash-flood warning in north central Minnesota, Koochiching, North Cass, Itasca and central and northern St. Louis counties. The warning also included Voyageurs National Park and the western Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness. The St. Louis County Sheriff's Office confirmed a tornado touchdown in Cotton, and 5½ inches of rain north of Virginia, Minn.

It also issued a severe thunderstorm warning with possible 60 mph winds for areas including Hugo, Scandia and Dellwood, in Washington County, until 9:30.

In anticipation of high water, the Minnesota Department of Transportation will close the Hwy. 41 Minnesota River crossing between Hwy. 169 and downtown Chaska at 9 a.m. Thursday. MnDOT has already called off this weekend's closure of portions of northbound Interstate 35W, southbound I-35W, and eastbound I-494 in Bloomington and Richfield due to the expected inclement weather. This closure will take place the weekend of June 28.

In Carver County, officials have shut down County Road 123 north of Hwy. 7 as water from the nearby Crow River covered the road. County Road 30 is closed west of New Germany to Lester Prairie, the Carver County Sheriff's Office posted on X Tuesday evening. And others may be too, said Ari Lyksett, a spokeswoman for Carver County.

"We are ready to activate any needed emergency procedures in the event of high-water conditions as we monitor throughout the day and continue to receive regular updates from the National Weather Service in Chanhassen," she said.

In Delano, public works crews installed a flood wall along the east side of Bridge Avenue on Tuesday as a precaution to keep water out of the downtown area. The Crow River is expected to crest Sunday at 20 feet, about 4 feet above flood stage.

"We felt it was a good move to put it up now," said Mayor Holly Schrupp, who noted there has not been any flooding in downtown yet. "We are taking the measures we need to take."

Officials in Mankato have closed the campground at Land of Memories Park and trails next to the Minnesota River, a press statement from the city said Tuesday. City staff are also preparing work details for potential patrols of Mankato's levee and flood walls.

Water rose quickly along the Minnesota River from New Ulm in southern Minnesota to the south metro suburb of Savage. The rushing Cannon River and branches of the Crow River in Hennepin, Wright and Carver counties were nearing flood stage in places. Flood warnings were in place along those waterways, the National Weather Service said.

Storms traveling over the same area of already waterlogged ground could lead to flash flooding. Those living near water should prepare to immediately move to higher ground should flooding occur, the Department of Public Safety's Homeland Security and Emergency Management said.

The agency also warned people not to park vehicles near streams or drive through flooded areas. Officials also advised not to wade through flood waters, which can be filled with debris and could be contaminated with sewage, insects or animals.

The odds that water will recede fast are slim, said Jeff Strock, a professor at the University of Minnesota's Southwest Research and Outreach Center in Lamberton. On Tuesday, farm fields along the Hwy. 14 corridor from Waseca to the west had standing water. With the soil saturated, the water and any rain that falls will run off into rivers and streams and push water higher. The long-term impact will be felt in urban areas like the metro as the glut makes its way downstream.

"The flooding situation could last for a while," Strock said.

And so could the impact as farmers won't be able to replant their crops, urban roads flood and rushing water poses dangers for venturing onto lakes and rivers.

The June deluge has "been way too much of a good thing," Strock said. "We'll feel a lot of downsides for a while."

By Tuesday morning, the storms had dropped 4.28 inches of rain in the Twin Cities, but some places in southern Minnesota have seen 3 to 10 inches of rain in the past few days.

Wet Junes are nothing unusual, said Assistant State Climatologist Pete Boulay.

"It's very typical," he said. "We just have not had that in the past four years. Every year the jet stream moves north. Welcome back to an active pattern."

As soggy as it has been, this June is nowhere near the wettest on record. That distinction belongs to 1874 when 11.67 inches of rain fell in June. For 2024 to crack the top 15 wettest Junes, another 2.83 inches would need to fall at Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport, where the metro area's official weather readings are taken, the Climatology Office said.

Larry Norland, director of golf at Green Haven Golf Course in Anoka, said he'd prefer not to land on that list.

"It would be nice if it would dry out," he said Tuesday. The golf course squeezed in a tournament Monday with just a few sprinkles as play wrapped up. He also had a full schedule of 335 duffers who had booked tee times Tuesday but was unsure how many would actually show up.

What's not good for golf or other outdoor activities has been good for the ground. Plagued by very dry conditions last summer, the entire state has seen adequate precipitation this year and is drought-free, according to the latest report from the U.S. Drought Monitor.