Spring flooding likely along St. Croix River
The Stillwater lift bridge could be under water again this spring.
The bridge, which handles about 19,000 cars per day across the St. Croix River, faces a 90 percent chance of closing, according to Minnesota emergency management officials.
"If we have rapid (snow) melt, look out," said Dan Luna of the National Weather Service's Twin Cities office.
The same is true, he added, if there is significant new snowfall or rainfall on frozen ground.
Already, most of the Upper Midwest has more snow than usually falls in an entire winter.
"And we still have a good two months of winter," Luna said. "We don't expect the situation to get better, and it could get much worse."
Officials are particularly concerned about the flooding potential along the Minnesota River, Mississippi River and Red River.
On parts of the Minnesota and Mississippi rivers, flooding is five times more likely than normal, Luna said, and a there is an 8 percent to 10 percent chance of record flooding.
Luna joined disaster leaders Thursday to urge area residents to prepare for flooding.
Most important, they said, is that people who live along those rivers to go to their insurance agents and buy flood insurance. It is available across the state, said Tina Armstrong of the Minnesota Commerce Department, but there is a 30-day delay between when it is purchased and when coverage begins.
Director Kris Eide of Minnesota Homeland Security and Emergency Management said preparations should not stop there.
People who need help preparing for floods can contact their local emergency management offices, Eide said, and volunteers often are available.
"People need to take this flood threat seriously," she said.
Among things they can do is preparing a plan about how family member would contact each other if a flood occurs. They also should take photographs of all of their possessions for insurance use if their homes are flooded, the director said.
People in flood-prone areas also should assemble emergency kits, Eide said.