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Relentless rain raises rivers, closes locks on Mississippi

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As damp Minnesotans wake to yet another rain-filled morning, rivers running through the region are rising to levels that create unsafe conditions for navigation.

The Pioneer Press reports the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers closed its three Mississippi River locks in the Twin Cities to commercial vessels Wednesday. The locks closed to recreational boaters Sunday.

The closures of the Upper and Lower St. Anthony Falls locks in downtown Minneapolis and Lock and Dam 1 near Minnehaha Park are a result of the recent heavy rainfall. The Star Tribune said the shutdown is expected to last into next week.

The Stillwater Gazette notes water levels on the St. Croix River are approaching flood level. The National Weather Service predicts the river in Stillwater will reach and crest at 86 feet, one foot shy of the minor flood stage, on Tuesday, May 6. Should the water level reach 86 feet, the Stillwater Lift Bridge will be closed due to safety concerns.

The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources says slow no-wake speed limits are in effect for the St. Croix River because of high water levels. Boaters on the St. Croix between Taylors Falls, Minnesota, and Prescott, Wisconsin, must travel at the slowest possible speed to maintain steerage but no faster than 5 miles per hour. The speed limits aim to reduce shoreline erosion in areas not susceptible to wave action at lower water levels. Signs at public accesses alerting boaters are being posted, and marina operators have been notified.

On the Updraft blog, MPR News meteorologist Paul Huttner noted we just lived through the second-wettest April on record. He called the most recent soaker – which dumped another 3 -5 inches on the metro – a "hydro vortex." The Twin Cities has recorded 6.25 inches of precipitation for the month.

But KSTP's weather team says the April showers will give way to better – and drier – weather soon, with fewer showers Friday and slightly warmer temperatures.

KSTP also has a story about the homeowner hassles related to the rainfall. For some, it's wet basements and for others, it's leaky roofs. The station followed a repair company that took 134 calls to address roof leaks in the first few days of the week.

"Just a little bit of water can cause a lot of damage. It can cause mold, mildew, health hazards to the family," said Matt Dlouhy of Roofs-R-Us in St. Paul.

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