DNR urges caution on swollen Minnesota lakes and rivers
ST. PAUL—Minnesota Department of Natural Resources officials are urging boaters, anglers and others to be careful on swollen rivers across mostly southern Minnesota, although some rivers farther north are also running at dangerous levels.
Twelve rivers are reporting "very high" water levels after recent heavy rains. The flooding is covering parks, trails and farmland across that region.
The DNR urges "extreme caution" in these areas.
Lakes and rivers in several counties throughout the state currently have no-wake restrictions due to high water, and conservation officers recommend boaters stay off flooded portions of the Minnesota River and its tributaries in western and central Minnesota.
Besides the Minnesota River, others running at the "very high" levels in southern Minnesota are the Blue Earth, Cottonwood, Crow, LeSueur, Kettle, Rum, Shell Shock, Snake and Watonwan.
The Mississippi River from St. Paul to Winona is listed in the "very high" category as well as the St. Croix along the Wisconsin border near Stillwater.
Even rivers farther north such as the Otter Tail near Fergus Falls are listed in the "high" category.
Christopher O'Brien, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Chanhassen, said the rivers are at flood stage, but not into the moderate or major levels. The lone exception is the Minnesota River at Jordan, southwest of the Twin Cities, where the river is running at the "moderate" flood stage and causing the closure of bridges, he said.
The worst areas are in the southern half of the state where O'Brien said heavy rains have been "consistent" over the past couple of weeks. For example, he said in St. James in southwest Minnesota 10 inches of rain have been reported since June 1.
Although more rain could fall across Minnesota at times through Saturday, O'Brien said most of the rivers appear to be headed down in the next week.
However, as of mid-week, parks and boat landings along the Minnesota River were still underwater. In addition to inundating river banks, the recent rainfall has downed trees and swept natural and man-made objects into the water, creating hazards for boaters, swimmers and others. High water also can cover obstructions such as concrete pilings that boaters might not see until it's too late.
"The amount of water flowing through many river systems right now means the current is fast, strong and unpredictable, which can be problematic even for experienced paddlers and swimmers," said Lisa Dugan, DNR recreation safety outreach coordinator. "People should avoid places where there's a high-water alert and keep in mind that wearing a life jacket provides the best chance of surviving a fall into dangerous water."
Dugan also said people should be aware that conditions can change quickly.
Updated river level reports for Minnesota are available at mndnr.gov/river_levels.