Officials issue updated Minn. flood forecast

6:24 PM, Jan 27, 2011   |    comments
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ST. PAUL, Minn. -- Communities along the Mississippi, Minnesota and St. Croix rivers are facing the threat of significant flooding this spring.

The National Weather Service in the Twin Cities issued its spring flood outlook Thursday.

"Every river in the state of Minnesota is at risk this year and that's something we don't normally see," Dan Luna from the National Weather Service said.

"In this case the amount of moisture contained in our snow pack is about twice what it ought to be at this time of year," Luna warned, before reminding folks that there are still 2 more months of winter left.

The report says the Mississippi River is likely to flood low-lying parts of downtown St. Paul, which could close Shepard and Warner Roads.

It's also likely that floodwaters will encroach on key highway crossings over the Minnesota River in the Twin Cities metro area, including crossings in Chaska and Shakopee and possibly Interstate 35W.

"Precipitation as I understand it is 200 or 300% higher in the other areas which is going to come our way eventually," Scott County Emergency Manager Chris Weldon said.

The Stillwater lift bridge may have to close.

The forecast says flooding is also likely upstream on the Minnesota, including at Montevideo and Granite Falls.

RELATED: National Weather Service detailed flood report

The National Weather Service says rivers in some areas could top their 2009 and 2010 crest levels.

The Red, Minnesota, and Upper Mississippi rivers are the main concerns, along with the St. Croix River. Many southeastern cities still cleaning up from flooding last fall could also be affected.

Kris Eide, the state's emergency management director, says people need to take the threat seriously.  "It is now time to start preparing," she warned.

She's recommends that homeowners consider buying flood insurance before the snowmelt and spring rains. Flood damage is not covered under a standard homeowner's policy, and there's a 30-day waiting period before a flood policy goes into effect.

"It only takes a few inches in the basement of a home to do thousands of dollars worth of damage to your family property," Eide said.

Officials say the Red River in Fargo could flood in early April.  In fact, there's a 20% chance that things will be worse than they were during the tough floods of 2009.

"I volunteered in the 2009 Fargo Flood and we did 156 rescues with the boat over a 4 day period," Pat Biondo said.

Biondo's company produces a 19 foot search and rescue boat that is now in heavy demand this spring.  "We've had a significant boost in business in the last couple of months.  It's not a matter of 'if' the flood's coming, it's a matter of when."

(Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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