Waiting for the flood

The hardest-working people in showbiz this week are the TV reporters covering the potential of flooding in downtown St. Paul. They have to do “stand-ups” in front of a river that isn’t behaving badly yet.

Today, the National Weather Service raised the prediction of the crest level of the Mississippi River in St. Paul to 18.5 feet Saturday morning.


Since we have four days to wait, let’s build a photo chart showing the various river levels. It’ll come in handy in the future.

Wabasha St. Bridge
11.3 ft


9.2 ft


Raspberry Island
11.3 ft


9.2 ft



I’ll be collecting screenshots of reporters who need to stand in the water to tell their flood stories. Send yours to me if you want it included in the scrapbook.

  • Jeff

    What is measured when someone says that the river is at 14 feet. Fourteen feet above what?

  • Bob Collins

    Every observation point of a river has a “stage,” unique to that location. It’s a fixed point to serve as a point of reference — the “0” stage.

    The way we describe rivers is “X feet above flood stage,” but I guess it’s really “X feet above zero,” because the point at which flooding occurs is usually much higher than that.

    For the Mississippi at St. Paul, as the above map shows 12′ feet is the “action stage” (close some roads etc.), major stage — when things get interesting — is up around 17 feet while “flood stage” is 14 feet.

    Seems to me 6-7 feet is about your typically “it’s been a rainy month” stage so you have to use that as a reference point. The “flood” on Saturday would be about 10 feet above what the river usually would be.