Duluth deals with citywide flooding after several inches of rain; more wet weather ahead

A rushing river.
The Lester River looking down from the Superior St. Bridge in Duluth on Sunday after high levels of rain elevated river levels and caused flooding in North Shore communities.
Dan Kraker | MPR News

Updated: 8:36 a.m.

Roads are still slick Monday morning after more than four inches of rain fell in Duluth over the weekend, forcing water up from sewers and leading to flooding across the city.

As of Monday, Duluth has received just under 10 inches of rain in September — more than seven inches above average, according to the National Weather Service.

A rain gauge full of water.
A rain gauge is measured outside of the National Weather Service station in Duluth showing the largest 6-hour measurement of 1.67 inches between 1 a.m. and 7 a.m. on Sunday.
Courtesy of National Weather Service via X

“Knife River itself rose about nine feet over the course of the morning hours yesterday and it did cause river levels to get pretty elevated there and even flooded the Knife River Park by Highway 61 even got some flooding,” said Cory Rothstein, a meteorologist with the NWS Duluth office.

One public report documented 6.3 inches of rain in Duluth’s Hillside neighborhood as of Monday morning, Rothstein said.

Several roads were damaged in St. Louis County, according to a press release from the public works department. Drivers who encounter flooded areas should call 911. So far, there’ve been no reports of injury.

Much of the North Shore and extending into western Wisconsin will likely to face more precipitation. The weather service forecasts isolated thunderstorms along the south shore of Lake Superior and from Duluth to Silver Bay through Monday evening. There is also a beach hazard in effect along the shoreline with waves reaching up to five feet Monday afternoon.

The weekend's heavy rain followed flash flooding in central Duluth two weeks ago, which washed out some pavement in the Hillside neighborhood and washed away tons of gravel at a Superior Street construction site. 

As temperatures cool into the fall, Lake Superior remains a bit warmer, which leads to lake-enhanced — and thus, heavier — rainfall rates, according to Rothstein.

But some of the weekend rain was welcome: Rothstein said there were reports of more than an inch of rain in parts of Carlton County, which has been listed in exceptional drought for weeks, and overall the higher-than-normal precipitation will aid in continued drought relief.

Get the latest weather conditions and forecast in your area from MPR News’ Updraft blog.

Correction (Sept. 25, 2023): An earlier version of this story misspelled Cory Rothstein’s name. The article has been updated.

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