Park Board prepared for potential flooding of Minnehaha Creek
While Minneapolis residents welcome the first signs of spring, officials are hoping the warm-up will be gradual so that the remaining snow won’t melt so fast it floods the Minnehaha Creek.
Models produced in mid-March by the Minnehaha Creek Watershed District projected a high water level of 930.22 feet above sea level on the creek’s feeder, Lake Minnetonka. The projection is only 3 inches below the record high set in 2002. District officials are predicting moderate flooding, although Mother Nature could change things.
Most Southwest homeowners need not worry, as nearly the entire stretch of creek between Edina and I-35W is surrounded by Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board land.
However, the Watershed District encourages residents to check out its website (www.minnehahacreek.org/FloodWatch.php) for tips on preparing for a potential flood. You can also view a map of the most up-to-date flood projections at the site.
The Park Board’s Assistant Superintendent of Operations, Michael Schmidt, said the Park Board is prepared to barricade areas where the water goes over the creek’s banks and close to the paths in the park.
“There’s the potential for a problem,” he said. “We’re aware of the potential for a problem and we’re keeping an eye on it.”
Schmidt said flooding in the past has not been destructive to parkland; the park’s infrastructure can handle water for short time periods and he didn’t anticipate any problematic soil erosion.
“Is there any one or more places that we are specifically concerned about? No. We’re cognizant of the places that might be problematic, but there’s nothing that we have any angst about — that we’re going to lose a large section, or the creek is going to change its course,” Schmidt said, referring to erosion.
Schmidt said the Lynnhurst Park area would be the most affected by a flood in Southwest because it has a lower elevation and a stream coming in from Lake Harriet.
Renae Clark, project manager for the Watershed District, said the flooding projection was based on the amount of water in the snow pack, expected precipitation in the coming weeks and average snow melt over a 10-day period.
Clark said the models could change. A warm-up in February helped to get rid of some of the snow left over from a winter filled with snowstorms, but there was still plenty left in mid-March.
“It could go faster if we get a really warm spell, and it could be higher if that happens and it rains at the same time,” she said.
Forecasts for March 16–17 called for highs above 50 degrees, which is 10 degrees above normal, according to the National Weather Service.
Schmidt said the weather in early March was ideal for preventing flooding. Daytime temperatures reached 40 degrees, allowing for small snow melts, followed by 20-degree nights in which the snow banks froze back up.
“We’re not assuming the worst at this point,” he said. “We’re just kind of seeing how the facts develop out there.”
Eloise Butler Wildflower Garden opens April 1
The Eloise Butler Wildflower Garden and Bird Sanctuary is set to open April 1, giving people a chance to see the first blooming plants and migrating songbirds on their way up north.
The garden is open daily from 7:30 a.m. to 30 minutes before sunset. For more information on tours and programs, visit http://tinyurl.com/48qmet5.
The garden is located within Theodore Wirth Park.