St. Croix on rise – again

Recent rains push river above 80-foot level

By ERIK SANDIN – Stillwater Gazette

Recent heavy rains have the St. Croix River rising again and Stillwater city officials said the high water could affect where spectators can view the city’s Fourth of July fireworks show.

By mid-morning today the St. Croix was slightly above 81 feet and National Weather Service forecasters expect the river to rise more in the days ahead.

"We are expecting a rise," said Chris Franks, an NWS meteorologist. "We’re not expecting it to hit flood stage."

Franks said recent rainfall both in the St. Croix Valley and in the Duluth area are contributing to the St. Croix’s rise.

"We’re expecting a four-foot rise," he said. "We’re expecting a crest some time in the next week, almost seven days from now."

And as the Duluth area tries to recover from flash floods Tuesday night and Wednesday caused by heavy rains, Franks said some of that water will eventually flow in to the St. Croix River.

"The Kettle River is flowing very high and it’s something that’s going into the St. Croix," he said. "It’s going to come down here."

At Tuesday night’s Stillwater City Council meeting, City Administrator Larry Hansen and City Engineer Shawn Sanders both said they expect the rising river to inundate parts of the riverfront area, including Lowell Park, where many spectators sit to watch Fourth of July fireworks.

Hansen said if there is high water along the riverfront by July 4, the city plans to move fireworks show spectators to riverfront parking lots.

Franks said the weather outlook for the Valley would improve as sunny, drier conditions move in next week. He adds that the next chance of rain for the Valley is Friday night into Saturday, with the best chance of rain north of the region.

"We are trending toward a dry pattern," he said. "Today and Friday look like pleasant summer days."

Today should be sunny and mild with highs near 75 and tonight is expected to be clear and pleasant with lows near 55.

Friday sees more sun and a high near 77. The next chance of rain for the area is Friday night through Saturday night. Lows Friday night are forecast in the upper 50s, while Saturday will see clouds, a high near 80 and a low dropping to the low 60s.

The other factor Franks said helps slow the St. Croix River’s rise is vegetation soaking up some of the rain.

"It helps somewhat that we’re in full vegetation mode," he said.