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Southwest Minnesota flooding; heavy and fast

How did it all happen?

July 08, 2018 - 10:14 am

Folks in southwestern Minnesota are already calling the extremely high water a "100-year flood," and there is a reason for that.

Between six and ten inches of rain fell during a short period of time July 3 in an three-county area, hitting hard in the towns of Redwood Falls, Tracy, and Slayton. 

"That's an incredible amount of rain to receive in such a short period of time," program leader Michelle Margraf of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration told WCCO's Esme Murphy on Saturday night.

"Usually, when we have heavy rainstorms, some of that water is going to soak into the ground," she said about the rainfall that came after the region made it through and extremely wet month.

Some places in southwestern Minnesota reported at least 12 inches of rain in June, which is about twice the average amount.

"In this case, the ground was already saturated from the June rain," she said. "You get this incredible rain on top of it, every drop pretty much ran off into the rivers and into the low-lying areas."
 
Making matters worse is all that water has to go somewhere.

"The effects are kind of spreading out a little bit from that three-county area as the water makes its way through the river system," Margraf said.

It may take a while before all the excess water makes its way through rivers and streams. 

There are some areas where the water has receded, only to reveal roadways that were damaged during the floods. 

Governor Dayton declared states of emergency in 36 storm-battered counties and one reservation:  

Aitkin, Becker, Beltrami, Blue Earth, Brown, Carlton, Cass, Clearwater, Cottonwood, Faribault, Fillmore, Freeborn, Jackson, Kittson, Lake, Lyon, Mahnomen, Martin, Mille Lacs, Mower, Murray, Nicollet, Nobles, Pine, Pipestone, Polk, Red Lake, Redwood, Renville, Rock, Sibley, Stearns, Stevens, St. Louis, Waseca and Watonwan counties, along with Red Lake reservation.

Dayton visited southwestern Minnesota late last week and is expected back in the region on Monday, with a trip planned for Windom.