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'Waiting game' for floods in St. Croix County

St. Croix County officials said ice jams remained among factors that could impact flooding in the area. Here, ice piled up along the Willow River banks north of Burkhardt. Mike Longaecker / RIverTown Multimedia1 / 2
St. Croix County officials said ice jams remained among factors that could impact flooding in the area. Here, ice piled up along the Willow River banks north of Burkhardt. Mike Longaecker / RIverTown Multimedia2 / 2

St. Croix County officials continued monitoring the flood threat this week in anticipation of rising rivers in the area.

According to a Monday, March 18, National Weather Service report, there is at least a 50 percent chance the stretch of the St. Croix River from Stillwater running to Prescott, where it meets the Mississippi River, and down into Minnesota's Wabasha County, will receive major flooding.

But St. Croix County Emergency Support Services Director Steve T'Kach echoed the weather service's caveat that the severity depends on weather conditions for the rest of the month into April.

"For the most part, it's a waiting game," he said Wednesday.

T'Kach said the county isn't planning on sandbagging operations, but said that's subject to change. Local municipalities generally handle those efforts; he said Hudson officials "are on top of this."

"The potential is there to be right up there with the doozies," he said of major historical floods in the area.

The rate at which snow melts will determine the severity, along with any additional precipitation. The weather service said a best-case scenario means little rain matched with daytime highs in the upper 30s or 40s, along with nighttime freezing.

"The process will slow down" if that occurs, T'Kach said.

The worst case would be an extended period of warm, wet weather with highs in the 50s or 60s, lows in the 40s and high dew points.

According to the NWS forecast for Hudson, Thursday's high will be 50 with a low of 28. Friday will reach 44 and drop to 23. Saturday will see a high of 51 and a low of 32. Thursday through Saturday are all forecast to be sunny.

Sunday's forecast calls for a chance of snow turning over to rain with a high of 50 and a low of 24.

As of Wednesday, five St. Croix County roads were closed due to snowmelt. T'Kach said the eastern part of the county received more snow than the western side; more roads are affected in that part of the county, he said, noting that a dozen had been closed over the previous weekend.

T'Kach said officials are also monitoring ice jams on rivers, which can displace water as they build and damage bridges along the way.

"Anything that is in their way is getting hit," he said.

A jam on the Willow River he checked on earlier in the week at county roads I and A appeared to have cleared by Wednesday, with massive ice chunks piling up on the shore and sandbars.

Mike Longaecker

Mike Longaecker is a regional/enterprise reporter for RiverTown Multimedia. His coverage includes St. Croix County government, higher education and state politics in Wisconsin. 

(651) 301-7867
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