Heavy rains lead to flooding in Duluth, other North Shore communities

A view of a fast moving river through the trees.
Rivers, creeks and streams were running high in northeast Minnesota after heavy rainfall overnight and into early Sunday.
Dan Kraker | MPR News

Updated: 4:53 p.m.

Duluth is dealing with flooding across the city Sunday after getting about 4 inches of rain this weekend.

Creeks and streams, including the Kettle River, are running higher than usual. The city says there is also standing water on roadways and overflows of at least three sanitary sewers.

The National Weather Service has issued a flood warning between Duluth and Two Harbors until 7 p.m. Sunday.

Kelli Latuska, the city’s public information officer, said the city is focused on keeping people safe.

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“We just want to remind drivers and walkers to be very careful,” Latuska said. “The old mantra of ‘turn around, don't drown’ is definitely something we want to keep instilling in our residents today.”

She said residents should avoid both standing and moving water, which might be deeper or moving faster than it looks on the surface. Residents should avoid water around any dislodged manhole covers, too, as flooded sewers can pose a sanitary risk.

Josh Sandstrom is a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Duluth. He said this amount of rain in such a short amount of time is unusual for the area.

“We don't usually see amounts in the 4 to 5 inch range in 48 hours,” Sandstrom said. “That's why we're dealing with some of the flooding issues.”

Crews are currently responding to areas of flooding as they are reported. Response teams are blocking off some streets, including the area around Miller Hill Mall.

“When water abates, we will assess the situation and see if we can remove those barricades,” Latuska said.

St. Louis County Public Works said in a press release that several roads have been damaged in washouts. County crews are making repairs as they’re able to, and said that anyone who encounters a flooded area should call 911 to report it.

Sandstrom said that the rain is predicted to slow down this afternoon, so midday Sunday will probably be the worst of the floods.

“A lot of the places that have seen flooding are kind of right at the top… and they'll probably start to recede slowly this afternoon,” Sandstrom said.