Busy winter brings spring flood chance; Mankato ready for rising river

According to the National Weather Servcice, many areas along both the Cottonwood and Minnesota Rivers are at risk for flooding this spring.
Published: Mar. 1, 2023 at 6:53 PM CST
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MANKATO, Minn. (KEYC) - According to the National Weather Service, the depths of grounded snow in some parts of Minnesota is the deepest on record. When it melts, we may find ourselves in a bit of a predicament.

“March right now as it stands is looking to be slightly below average and temperatures but slightly above average in precipitation and how kind of we fluctuate going in with that precipitation is really how is our river basins. How is our surface really going to handle more precipitation?,” said KEYC Meteorologist Joshua Eckl.

This winter has seen above average precipitation with snow and heavy rainfall.

“And then we just had this recent winter storm that pushed through,” said Eckl.

“Our ground is gonna be able to soak up some of this water but it is really gonna be a continuous watch of how things are gonna be unfolding for weather March and into April,” he added.

Especially as the two through four inches of snow water on the ground begins to melt.

But in Mankato, nature is getting some help from humans.

“We are fortunate that we have a permanent system in place that allows us to can control it a lot better,” said assistant city engineer Michael McCarty. “It does make it a lot easier. We don’t see the activities that Fargo had in the past where you have to mobilize a large number of folks and build temporary walls out of sandbags and stuff like that. We are fortunate that we have a permanence.

On a normal day, it’s all gravity doing the work. At this station, area parks also help alleviate water flow.

“It doesn’t have to have the high volume of pumping as say the couple that service the downtown area where it’s all urbanized. There’s no ponding or anything that where we have to essentially evacuate that water as soon as it gets to the station,” said McCarty.

During times of high water flow, as in a spring melt, the pumping system works differently.

“We need to isolate the river from this facility and then we turn the pumps on and lift the water up over into the river,” he added.