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St. Paul declares flood emergency in preparation for major Mississippi River swell

Flood stage will be reached this weekend, with rises thereafter.
Harriet Island flooding, St. Paul

Buildings of Harriet Island flooded during spring of 2011. 

A local flood emergency has been declared by the City of St. Paul in advance of spring flooding, which is forecast to ramp up this weekend into next week. 

The declaration readies the city to act and protect flood-prone residents and infrastructure in the event the Mississippi River rises above flood stage, which is a foregone conclusion at this point. 

"With a historic snowfall this winter, combined with the rapid snowmelt, we are anticipating significant spring flooding of the Mississippi River,” said Mayor Melvin Carter. “This action ensures we are prepared to respond and keep our city safe.”

The National Weather Service, as of 1 a.m. Thursday, measured the Mississippi River at St. Paul at 8.1 feet. Flood stage is at 14 feet, and the river is expected to rise to around 17.5 feet by next Wednesday evening, which will cause major flooding. 

What effect does that have? At 13.3 feet, water begins to impact Water Street. At 14 feet, parts of Lilydale Park begin to flood and at 17.5 feet Harriet Island begins to submerge. Once the river reaches 18 feet, Warner Road may become impassable.

Additional rises are possible beyond next Wednesday, the weather service says. 

There is a chance for rain over the weekend but forecasters don't believe it'll be heavy enough to impact the flood threat beyond what it already is. Rain later next week is possible, but any impact on the flooding is too far away to determine. 

The weather service has also warned about an increasing risk of ice jams on rivers, creeks and streams, which can lead to rapid rises in water levels and flooding. It's what happened on Sand Creek in Jordan, causing around 150 homes in a mobile home park to be evacuated last week. 

MnDOT captured video of an ice jam forming on the Minnesota River at the Hwy. 99 bridge at St. Peter. The jam broke four hours later, but the river rose two feet during that time because of the jam. 

Flood warnings in other parts of Minnesota: 

– Cottonwood River at New Ulm affecting Brown County

– Cottonwood River Above Springfield affecting Brown County

– Minnesota River at Montevideo affecting Chippewa, Lac qui Parle, Yellow Medicine counties

– Minnesota River At Morton affecting Renville County

– Minnesota River At New Ulm affecting Brown, Nicollet counties

– Minnesota River at Mankato affecting Blue Earth, Nicollet counties

– Minnesota River at Henderson MN19 affecting Le Sueur, Scott, Sibley counties

– Minnesota River near Jordan affecting Carver, Scott counties

– Minnesota River at Savage affecting Dakota, Hennepin, Scott counties

– South Fork Crow River below Mayer affecting Carver County

– Crow River at Rockford affecting Hennepin, Wright counties

– Mississippi River at St. Paul affecting Dakota, Ramsey, Washington counties

– Mississippi River near Hastings L/D 2 affecting Dakota, Washington, Pierce counties

– Redwood River near Redwood Falls affecting Redwood County

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