MANKATO, Minn. (AP) — Another wave of heavy rain drenched southern Minnesota early Wednesday, flooding streets in Mankato and causing mudslides that forced the closure of some highways.
The National Weather Service reported around 5 inches of rain overnight in the Mankato area, which overwhelmed the city's storm sewer system. Outside of Mankato, the Minnesota Department of Transportation reopened U.S. Highway 169 around 5:30 a.m. after a two-hour closure due to flash flooding. Also, Minnesota Highway 66 was blocked by mudslides between Mankato and Rapidan.
"There's major flooding in the Rapidan area," said area resident Jean Lundquist, who detoured through the town to get to work. "There are whole fields under water. Houses in town that are sitting in water. Cars parked in driveways sitting in water up to the bottom of the car. Streets have been flooded over."
Since last weekend, successive rounds of thunderstorms have caused rapid rises on the Minnesota River in Mankato, the Cottonwood River in New Ulm and numerous smaller streams. City crews inspected Mankato's flood walls in preparation for the Minnesota River reaching flood stage, city spokeswoman Edell Fiedler said. The river was about 3 feet below flood stage around midday.
The storms have soaked farm fields in southern Minnesota with nearly a foot of precipitation in some places and pelted them with hail, raising concerns about potential crop damage. More rain, hail and wind are forecast through this coming weekend.
"When you get these continuous rains, most of the fields are totally saturated," MinnStar Bank farm management analyst Kent Thiesse said.
Rock County farmer Lyle Rollag said deluges through Monday put about 25 acres of his corn and soybeans under water and nearly cost him some cattle when a creek running through his pasture overflowed. But the current washed out the fence that penned them in, allowing some 64 cows and calves to swim to safety.
There may be hope for some flooded fields, as University of Minnesota Extension agronomist Jeff Coulter said it all depends how fast the water recedes.
"If that water is able to recede within a day or two, the corn should start to regrow within about three to five days, we should see some new leaves coming out of the plant," he said. But if the water stays around longer, corn plants will die, he said.
For Rollag, the storms also delivered a large dose of irony: A month ago, his land in the southwest corner of the state had drought conditions.
"We couldn't seem to buy a rain and now we can't seem to shut it off," he said.