Rivers rising fast now as flood threat grows; a shot at 60 next week?

The flood risk across southern Minnesota grows rapidly over the next week. Barring any major breaking news events, the evolving flood story will likely lead your local newscast for at least the next week.

Ice jam flooding on the Cottonwood River in New Ulm, Minnesota. Image: Joseph Stadheim City of New Ulm.

Our warmer temperatures are triggering steady snowmelt runoff. That means rivers are rising rapidly now.

Many rivers are already in flood stage. Major flooding is already occurring on rivers in southwest Minnesota including the Cottonwood and Redwood rivers. Get the latest river forecasts here.

Downstream, the Minnesota and Mississippi near the Twin Cities are likely to reach peak flood levels next week. Some rivers may rise as much as 10 feet by next Thursday. Preparations in flood zones for many rivers should be rushed to completion over the next 48 hours.

Let’s dig deeper into the flood risk at various locations in Minnesota.

Mississippi River at St Paul 

This Mighty Mississippi in St. Paul is a bellwether for flood around our region. Flood impacts are visible in this urbanized area. The Mississippi is expected to rise nearly 10 feet by next Thursday, March 28.

The current crest forecast near 18 feet would have visible flood impacts in St. Paul. Floodwater begins to cover Harriet Island at 17.5 feet. Warner Road is impacted at 18 feet.

Flood impact info via USGS.

If the expected crest of 18-feet is reached in St. Paul next week, it would tie for the 13th highest flood of record. The Mississippi has reached higher levels than this year’s projected crest 6 times since 2000.

Top 15 floods for the Mississippi River in St. Paul via NOAA/USGS.

Minnesota River

The Minnesota River looks to crest over the next several days. Here’s the forecast for New Ulm.

Here’s the outlook for Mankato.

The Minnesota is forecast to approach major flood stage in the southern Twin Cities next week. That will impact river towns like Chaska.

Spring pattern continues

The overall upper air pattern favors continued pulses of milder Pacific air moving into Minnesota.

NOAA upper air forecast for 7 pm CDT Wednesday, March 27.

Temperatures look a lot like spring over the next week. We could get close to 60 on Saturday, and again next Thursday.

NOAA via Weather Bell.

The longer range maps also suggest a possible rain to snow system between March 28-30. If rainfall from this system is significant, it could come as rivers are at or near peak levels late next week. That could be problematic for increasing or prolonging flooding in some areas.

This NOAA GFS model run is still far in the future for high confidence. But it gives you an idea of the potential for a system late next week.

NOAA GFS model for Thursday and Friday, March 28-29.

Stay tuned.