Lyon County issues flood warning

Marshall street crews work to clear basins and storm sewers

Photo by Karin Elton Motorists maneuver through the flooded intersection at Fourth and Donita streets in Marshall late Wednesday afternoon.

MARSHALL — Rain and melting snow have triggered flood warnings in southwest Minnesota and throughout other upper Midwest States Wednesday.

Lyon County announced its flood warning would last until 6 a.m. today and reported that up to ¾ if an inch of rain could hit the area.

During the State of the City Wednesday, Marshall City Administrator Sharon Hanson said street crews have been working to remove snow and ice blocking catch basins and storm sewers. Residents could see some minor street ponding and flooding, she said, and she encouraged members of the public to call the city to report problem areas on the streets. 

“This is a priority for us this week, and especially with our rain event today,” Hanson said.

Marshall has a history of flooding, Mayor Bob Byrnes said during the State of the City presentation. The city had experienced flash flooding 19 times before 1993. Part of the reason behind that was the steep change in elevation between the headwaters of the Redwood River and Marshall. 

“If there was a heavy rain upstream, a day later it ended up in Marshall and it would cause problems,” Byrnes said. Although Marshall has improved its flood protections since the 1990s, the city has experienced challenges this winter like historic amounts of snowfall, extreme cold that prevented any substantial snowmelt before now, and now rain. 

As of 7:30 a.m. Wednesday, the Redwood River gauge at Victory Park in Marshall said the river stage was around 12.5 feet. Byrnes said 14 feet is the historic flood stage in Marshall. By around 15 feet, water starts to fill up flood control measures like the Redwood River diversion channel and holding ponds.

“Above this level, that’s where a lot of the storage capacity, such as the area between the river and the railroad (at Victory Park), that will all fill up, and that’s all protected by the dike,” Byrnes said. 

If the river stage gets up to about 19 feet, Byrnes said, it will overtop the weir (low dam) at Victory Park and flow into the Cottonwood River watershed through culverts under Minnesota Highway 23 and through the “Texas crossing” at the entrance to the Klein Addition south of the highway.

“We’ve never been there, but we are prepared if we do get there,” Byrnes said.

According to the National Weather Service, a drizzle is expected to persist, and will probably turn to freezing rain after midnight. Light rain is forecasted to continue today — possibly turning into freezing rain. Snow accumulation up to 1 inch is possible.

Many rivers around Wisconsin are expected to reach flood stage over the next few days as thunderstorms and showers melt away the snow. The National Weather Service posted a flood warning in the Eau Claire area and into southeastern Minnesota. A flood watch was issued for portions of east central, south central and southeast Wisconsin Wednesday through Friday.

A strong storm packing wind gusts of 60 mph and a foot of snow is moving into South Dakota where a blizzard warning was posted. Rapid City schools and government offices are among those closed Wednesday. A similar warning for northeast North Dakota and northwest and west central Minnesota was in effect Thursday through Friday.