MONTEVIDEO, Minn. – A rising Minnesota River is spilling over roads and bridges in the upper basin, and authorities warn that more road closures are likely in the days ahead.
The river’s rise is accelerating as it moves toward an expected crest during the night Friday-Saturday in Montevideo and on Saturday at locations downstream from Granite Falls to Morton.
Montevideo Mayor Jim Curtiss described Wednesday, March 27, as the calm before the storm as the fastest rise in river levels are expected Thursday and Friday. The city is continuing its preparations for an expected crest of 21.8 feet, or below the 23.9 record crest of 1997. Along with Duininck’s Inc., the city is building up its 1969 levee by two feet with clay and will top it with sandbags on Thursday.
City workers also began plugging the Twin Cities and Western Railroad line.
Floodwaters reached familiar thresholds in Montevideo and Granite Falls on Wednesday. Waters spilled into Lagoon Park in Montevideo and topped the roadway behind downtown businesses in Granite Falls.
Chippewa County authorities have closed County Road 13 at the Churchill Dam, where waters have reached the roadway. Waters at the dam were at 937.99 feet late Wednesday, and rising. The record is 941.7 feet set in 1997.
Chippewa County has also closed County Roads 14 and 15, reported Emergency Management Director Stephanie Weich.
Renville County has closures on 10 county roads, including those crossing the Minnesota River.
Yellow Medicine County is keeping a watchful eye on water levels along the Minnesota River, and anticipates that road closures will be necessary in some areas Thursday and Friday. The county has closures on portions of 70 different roadways this week, but water levels are dropping in areas away from the Minnesota River, according to Sheriff Bill Flatten.
He urged motorists not to attempt to drive on flooded roadways. His department was called to assist a motorist who attempted to drive on a flooded roadway west of Clarkfield on Tuesday. It required a state truck to rescue the motorist, who was cited for driving around a barricade.
Waters are beginning to recede in portions of Lac qui Parle County, but many roads remain affected. Emergency Manager Director Blaine Johnson reported that 231 miles of roadway were closed as of late Wednesday, including a portion of U.S. Highway 75 south of Madison.
The Lac qui Parle River set a new record crest at 20.66 feet on Tuesday afternoon at a gauging station just upstream of where it reaches the Minnesota River above the Churchill Dam.
The Minnesota Department of Transportation is watching the water levels and prepared to close roads as needed, according to Highway Maintenance Supervisor Craig Gertsema.
The department anticipates that water will top Highway 40 just west of the Milan Bridge. A windy day could also send sheets of ice onto the road.
Some water is also expected to reach U.S. Highway 212 on a low curve between Montevideo and Granite Falls. The City of Montevideo is upgrading its 1969 levee and MnDOT believes Highway 212 in the city will remain protected and open.
If waters reach the projected levels in the Granite Falls, water will top Highway 67 southeast of the Granite Falls golf course and force that portion of roadway to be closed.