Spring melt, runoff intensifies over the weekend

    Although nothing that has occurred so far is outside the realm of what National Weather Service hydrologists had projected, the Red Lake River in Crookston jumped several feet Sunday night and into Monday, eclipsing the 23 foot mark. At press time Monday, it had dropped a foot or so and was sitting at 22.11 feet.

    Central Park was inundated overnight.

    In response to the spring runoff’s ramping up, the City of Crookston activated its Emergency Operations Center at the police department, and ward command posts and ward captains are monitoring river levels and the levees. Crookston’s certified levee system protects from a crest of up to 31 feet. Public Works crews are also on 24-hour shifts, closing storm sewer gates as needed, and making sure pumps and lift stations are functioning as they should be.

    As for vulnerable spots not protected by the levee system, Sentence to Service crews recently filled around 7,000 sandbags and last week volunteers from the University of Minnesota Crookston placed them along the wooden flood wall and old dike on Riverside Avenue.

    Despite the river dropping some Monday morning, hydrologists at press time Monday were projecting a river rise to the 26-foot range at midweek, where it was projected to hover for a couple days before beginning a slow decline.

    Daytime high temperatures that topped 50 degrees over the weekend for the first time this spring were accompanied by morning lows that did not dip to below freezing, meaning the melt and runoff continued overnight. Sunday night, a lot of river ice made its way through the river’s winding channel through Crookston.

    It appears Crookston will be safely to the north of an April blizzard that’s expected to hit the Upper Midwest and southern Minnesota later this week. Things are expected to cool down as well, with daytime high temperatures in the 30s and 40s and morning lows in the 20s.

    In order to access outside resources should they need to, the Crookston City Council Monday night is expected to follow in the footsteps of the Polk County Board of Commissioners and approve a resolution declaring a flood emergency.

    It’s not just river levels that are keeping officials and property owners on alert. Overland flooding in rural areas is especially significant this spring, and within Crookston’s city limits as well. Monday morning, the main access road to The Meadows Apartments in the northeast corner of town was overrun with water. A tenant tried to drive through the water and his vehicle ended up floating into the full ditch in front of Drafts Sports Bar & Grill. Emergency responders said he was able to exit his vehicle and escape uninjured.