Streets will start closing this weekend in St. Paul as the city prepares for potentially major flooding from the Mississippi River.
The river's flood stage in St. Paul is considered to be 14 feet, and as of 7 a.m. Saturday the river was at 12.79 feet.
The National Weather Service says that the river will experience "major flooding" at 17 feet, and current projections have it reaching 3 feet more than that, potentially topping 20 feet by Thursday or Friday.
The flooding is expected to reach "major" levels on Monday morning, which is why the city is taking steps now to shut down several lower-lying streets in anticipation.
As of 10 a.m. Sunday, the following streets will close:
- Warner/Shepard Road from Childs Road to Ontario Street (a private road, just east of Shepard Road and Eagle Parkway)
- 2nd Street from Kellogg Boulevard to Sibley Street
- 4th Street from Willius to Commercial Street
- Jackson Street from Warner Road to Kellogg Boulevard
- Sibley Street from Warner Road to Kellogg Boulevard
The streets will remain closed until the floodwaters have subsided and the pavement has been cleaned up.
The last time the river crested at more than 20 feet in St. Paul was 20.13 feet in June 2014 as a result of record levels of rainfall, which was the 6th highest crest of all time.
City workers have been out sandbagging the downtown area to keep floodwaters from washing out certain routes, with the city's emergency management director Rich Schute telling the Pioneer Press that the infrastructure in Lowertown is their greatest concern.
Meanwhile across the river, the St. Paul Airport has been reinforcing its new flood wall to keep its airfield free from floodwaters, as reported by KSTP.
Other areas of concern
There are further concerns about flooding as snowmelt from northern Minnesota continues to make its way south through the Mississippi, Minnesota and St. Croix Rivers.
The Minnesota River is expected to reach major flood stage near Morton this coming Thursday or Friday, while it could also be just a few feet from record levels at Henderson.
The St. Croix River at Stillwater meanwhile is expected to reach a stage of 87.5 feet by later this week, which could lead to minor flooding.
MPR reports that the saturation levels in the soil will also leave Minnesota vulnerable in the event of heavy rainfall between now and early May.