Southern Minnesota rivers continue to rise with more rain on the way

River flooding
An access point to the Minnesota River at Winkel Park in Chaska, Minn., was closed off on Saturday, June 23, 2018 as the river level continued to rise.
Nina Moini | MPR News

The rain keeps coming, and the rivers keep rising across much of southern and central Minnesota.

Flood warnings remained in effect Sunday for the Minnesota River and several of its tributaries, as more heavy rain fell across the watershed.

The Minnesota Department of Transportation closed State Highways 19 and 93 at the Minnesota River near Henderson and Le Sueur. Scott County officials reported that Scott County Highway 9/Carver County Highway 11 closed Sunday at the river crossing north of Jordan.

Downstream, those who work or live by the river were keeping an eye on the water level over the weekend.

Gus Khwice, owner of Dangerfield's restaurant in Shakopee, said he's had to vacate the lower level of his restaurant several times in the 27 years he's been on the riverfront.

"We have to take the doors, the doorjambs out, the furniture, evacuate the refrigeration. We have to vacate the lower level and get it ready for the flood," he said of those preparations.

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But he said he thinks this latest river rise won't necessitate such drastic actions.

"The highs and lows of the water is concerning everyone that is close to the river," Khwice said. "It is stressful trying to second guess Mother Nature, but I believe we are safe for this season."

River flooding
The view of the Minnesota River from Dangerfield's restaurant in Shakopee, Minn., on Saturday, June 23, 2018.
Nina Moini | MPR News

Aggie Beatriz, owner of First Avenue Boutique in Shakopee, is farther back from the river — but she noted that heavy rain alone can be enough to bring what should be a bustling day of business to a screeching halt.

"We've got Valleyfair, we've got so many events and activities that draw people into town. But when we've got weather like rain, it kind of hinders people from wanting to go to Valleyfair, or wanting to be outside, and so it definitely affects us as well," she said.

Kenny Blumenfeld, senior climatologist at the Minnesota State Climatology Office, said the weather pattern this month has been atypical. He said that while thunderstorms are standard fare for June, they usually don't linger over an area long enough to cause flooding until later in the summer.

"Usually in June, you get into a pattern where you have fast-moving winds aloft and you get these dynamic severe weather type outbreaks," he said. "We kind of skipped over that severe weather season so far and went right into mid-summer heat and heavy rain pattern."

The rising water level doesn't do any favors for boat traffic and water recreation, either. Greg Salo, assistant director of the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources' enforcement division, said that high water can create hazards in the water that boaters need to keep an eye on.

"So the log and stump that's been sitting on shore for 30 years is now covered in water and becomes a floating obstacle that never was there before, that's probably the biggest problem," he said.

This is the second round of high water concerns along some rivers in the region. After the long winter, melting snow led to flood warnings and some road closures in Minnesota back in late April and early May.