Lac Qui Parle County Emergency Management Flood Update: Tuesday, March 26

Submitted 3/26 11:35am – Details subject to change

MADISON, MN – High waters continue to affect the county’s rivers and creeks. Western and southern tributaries have crested and are falling, and basically only the Minnesota River remains on the rise throughout Lac qui Parle county; although rivers remain extremely high. Crests along the mainstem Lac qui Parle reached records levels while the Yellow Bank River also neared records for those gages.

The City of Dawson experienced a first crest on Sunday morning around 40’, which held near there for about 8 hours before slowly rising to 40.5’ on Sunday Evening. Overnight the river dropped about a quarter of a foot, but on Monday morning, waters unexpectedly rose nearly 8/10 of a foot in a matter of hours, surprising many and leading to several homes being quickly sandbagged and causing streets of the city to flood from ditch backup.

Dawson’s two levee pumps have been working at max capacity, with an additional PTO driven 16” hose assisting and managing to keep the water levels stable near the baseball field; later on Monday, city crews added a second tractor-driven pump which has begun to lower that area behind the levee. Burlington Northern and private contractors worked with backhoes along the railroad and diagonal street bridge decks to breakup ice jams that are thought to have backed up water behind the bridges between 1 and 2 feet upstream. Several other roads in Dawson have been flooded.

Most residents claim the last flood of this severity to hit the city was in 2001. A triple-crest on any river is a rare occurrence, and all, including hydrologists and meteorologists are cautiously optimistic that the current downtrend will continue, without another major uptick.

This is the 100th Anniversary of the historic 1919 Dawson flood of 47’ that damage much of the city and is still the modern-day record. 50 years later in 1969, the second highest crest of 44’ occurred; with the paper at the time reading, “….and in 2019?”. Sure enough, 50 years later we are in a similar boat.

Tracking road closings across the county is a major challenge for emergency management and sheriff’s office personnel. At last count, the county has roughly 112 sections of closed roadway totaling over 130 miles with what has been found and reported. There are likely more closings to come in today, but many should also begin to reopen beginning in the southwest.

Each site needs to be documented for any financial reimbursement requested with updated maps being given to first response agencies routinely. Minnesota Highway 75 south of Madison to Highway 212 remains closed due to water running over the road and extremely dangerous travel conditions. It has been closed since 10am on Monday.

The Lac qui Parle County Emergency Operations Center remains activated at ‘Enhanced Monitoring’/ Level-3.

A National Weather Service issued Flood Warning will remain in effect for the entire county until 8:30am on Wednesday, March 27th . The long-term forecast continues to feature dry weather.