Heavy rains cause flooding in west-central Minnesota; Otter Tail County stays mostly above water - for now
Heavy storms last night that dumped as much as eight inches of rain on already saturated fields, roads and basements is causing more problems in west-central Minnesota communities.
There are reports of standing water on roads in several counties, including Yellow Medicine, Chippewa and Renville counties, with at least one road washed out northeast of Granite Falls.
What’s worse is that more rain is in the forecast for today, which has prompted the National Weather Service in Chanhassen to issue flood and flash flood warnings for much of the region.
The weather service said 3-8 inches of rain fell in the area last night, and with additional rain expected today, rivers and streams will continue to rise and flood new areas throughout the day.
Targeted areas include Granite Falls, Olivia, Redwood Falls, Gaylord and Hutchinson.
“We’ve got some localized flooding here, south and east of Granite Falls,” said Yellow Medicine County Sheriff Bill Flaten. “The low-lying areas are full-up,” he said, and a “bunch of roads are covered.”
He said reports from the town of Wood Lake indicate as much as 10 inches of rain fell there, flooding streets and causing problems with storm sewers and sanitary sewer systems.
“They’re busy pumping,” said Flaten.
The Olivia City Council held an emergency meeting this morning to find solutions to the flooding issues going on there after six inches of fell in the community overnight.
“We have quite a problem here,” said City Administrator Dan Coughlin.
“The storm water system is at capacity. Our holding ponds are at a food of cresting and the drainage ditches are about to crest,” said Coughlin.
The council agreed to join the Minnesota Water/Wastewater Agency Response Network, which is a statewide joint powers agency that provides emergency resources to communities.
The local fire department may be called to help if the water continues to rise, said Coughlin, adding that after the meeting today the councilmembers had to deal with water and sewage in the basement of their own homes.
“We’re working the problem,” he said. “Lord willing, we don’t get any additional rain here.”
Rain-soaked Otter Tail County staying mostly above water
Despite all of the rain Otter Tail County has seen recently, overland flooding had not caused too much trouble as of the Perham Focus press time Tuesday.
According to the National Weather Service, as of Monday, about 3/4 of Otter Tail County had received 2.5 inches of rain or more in the past week. In the past month, all but a minimal portion of the county has had at least 4 inches. Totals in patches near Pelican Rapids, Perham and New York Mills have added up to about 12 inches in that same time period.
According to Rick West, the county’s Public Works Division Director, one county highway had a section submerged as of Monday afternoon. West said a portion of County Highway 15, south of the intersection with County Highway 112, in the southwest corner of the county, was about an inch under water. The road remained open.
Closer to Perham, West said water had started creeping onto the east-bound lane of County Highway 34 near Ceynowa Lake. At press time, the lane had been closed and the speed limit reduced to 10 miles per hour.
No word of flooded or closed township roads had come to the Focus as of Tuesday.
To the west and south, recent weather has been more severe.
Another round of severe weather pummeled southwest Minnesota and northwest Iowa on Monday afternoon, with funnel cloud sightings, hail, straight-line winds and heavy downpours of rain reported across the region.
In addition to downed tree limbs, flooded roads, basements and rivers, a funnel cloud was also spotted over Worthington, Minn., on Monday.
To the west, U.S. Highway 75 was closed north of Luverne, Minn., by the State Patrol and state department of transportation on Monday afternoon due to over-road flooding.
A tornado touch-down was also reported south of Dickinson, N.D., on Monday night.
“We had multiple reports of a rotating funnel cloud and had some pictures of it and finally got a report of it on the ground,” said Michael Mathews, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Bismarck, N.D.
In addition to the twister, the area was subjected to golf- and baseball-sized hail. Another twister touched down in Wessington Springs, S.D. on Wednesday, causing widespread damage.
As of late afternoon Thursday, Otter Tail and surrounding counties were under a hazardous weather outlook by the National Weather Service. Thunderstorms, including some that could be strong to severe, were expected throughout the day. More storms were possible Friday through next Wednesday, though the weather service said the potential for more severe storms was relatively low.
Forum News Service contributed to this article.