River floods, but damage minimal
After staying his welcome by at least one month, old man winter has left southern Minnesota for good this season — but not without some strong reminders of the effects that weather has on people’s everyday activities. This April will undoubtedly go on record as our worst — the snowiest and among the coldest — in history.
April storms gave us a record amount of snow for the fourth month of the year, with a snowfall of 10-12 inches in Springfield on April 8. That snow foretold the danger of flooding in Springfield and other river towns. The Cottonwood River watershed is large, stretching nearly all the way to South Dakota. Some areas west of Springfield received 20 inches or more snow in the last snowstorm of the season.
Seasonably cool temperatures and nighttime temperatures below freezing through April 20 prevented rapid thawing, which was fortunate for communities along rivers. A warmup on April 21 caused the river to rise steadily during the weekend of April 21 and 22, and the river rose rapidly Monday, April 23, and Tuesday, April 24, a depth of 11 feet, and began to overflow its banks.
Public works employees closed the floodgate on the levee in the east section of Springfield so that floodwaters couldn’t back up into the residential area behind the levee. They set up a pumping station in the basin area at Washington Avenue and Lincoln Street where runoff from Highway 14, Marshall Avenue, Jefferson and Jackson Streets flow into that basin. They operated the pumps several times.
The Big Cottonwood River pushed its way up and began to seep out in a few places Sunday and began flowing over its banks early Monday. The road to the golf course was barricaded at 6 a.m. Monday when water was flowing over it.
Flood water spilled into Riverside Park and Campground early Tuesday and the road was barricaded at the Cass Avenue Bridge and up the hill on Cottonwood Street near County Road 5 at 11 a.m. and remained barricaded until 2:30 p.m. Wednesday, April 25. By 1:30 p.m., the water was running across the road and rising in the park.
The Big Cottonwood River crested at 29.18 feet just west of town crested at 3:00 p.m. Tuesday, April 25, according to the gauge just west of town.
The good news was that the waters that flowed into Riverside Park didn’t reach the swimming pool, it didn’t reach the softball field, nor the tennis courts, and it didn’t get into the restrooms in the campground.
Complete story in this week's issue of the Springfield Advance-Press.