Storms fueled by tropical moisture cause flooding in south-central Minnesota

Floodwaters cover State Highway 93
Floodwaters cover State Highway 93 south of Henderson, Minn., on Sunday, after a night of heavy rain.
Minnesota Department of Transportation

Updated: 5:45 p.m.

Slow-moving storms fueled by tropical moisture dropped more than 8 inches of rain on parts of south-central Minnesota late Saturday and early Sunday, forcing the closure of some roads. Two state highways remained closed late Sunday afternoon.

The National Weather Service said rain totals in Minnesota equaled or exceeded those seen with Hurricane Hanna in Texas — a storm that helped magnify those in Minnesota.

"Some moisture streaming off of that hurricane in the Gulf streamed up through the central U.S., up into the Upper Midwest, interacted with a slow-moving front over Minnesota, and that allowed multiple rounds of thunderstorms to develop," said National Weather Service meteorologist Eric Ahasic.

"There's a slow moving or stationary frontal boundary and you basically have a firehose of that moisture running into this front, and thunderstorms that develop along it just don't move," he said.

Rain totals included 8.65 inches near Mankato and 8 inches near Fairfax, Minn. A spotter near Gibbon reported 7.64 inches, with nearly 7 inches in St. Peter and more than 5 inches in Redwood Falls, New Ulm and Waseca.

As of late Sunday afternoon, the Minnesota Department of Transportation reported that State Highway 93 south of Henderson remained closed because of water over the roadway. State Highway 19 between Winthrop and Gaylord also was closed due to water on the road.

MnDOT District 7 Highway Maintenance Superintendent Chase Fester said he does not expect to see major problems once the water recedes. Both roads have seen flooding before.

"If it's anything like the last few times, (along) Highway 93 we obviously will have some shoulder repair that's going to need to happen after the road opens up. Highway 19 didn't really have much damage last time, so we'll keep our fingers crossed and hopefully we see the same thing this time around," he said.

The overnight torrential rain followed severe storms that produced a couple possible tornado touchdowns Saturday evening near Gaylord in Sibley County. There were no immediate reports of damage.

MPR’s Matt Sepic contributed to this report.

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