Thunderstorms that poured heavy rain on already saturated soil caused flash flooding in southwestern Minnesota last week and sent the Big Cottonwood River on a rampage once again.

Springfield starts cleanup after historic flood

Southwestern Minnesota was hammered with rain — with impressive rainfall totals that caused severe flooding in Springfield and throughout the region over the July 4 holiday.

It began with a wave of severe, slow-moving storms in Lincoln and Murray Counties and severe thunderstorms  that brought heavy rain to parts of Minnesota, mainly from the southwest to the northeast overnight July 2 and early July 3; but the ongoing risk to southwest Minnesota came from rainfall and flash flooding in an area stretching from South Dakota to New Ulm.  

The rains of July 3 and 4 added to already saturated ground and swollen rivers and lakes from June rainfall.

The National Weather Service reported that up to 8 to 10 inches of rain fell from Redwood Falls and Wabasso to Lucan.  About 8.5 inches of rain fell just southeast of Milroy. Marshall got 4 inches of rain. The Redwood River rose 6 feet on July 3 in Redwood Falls and reached a record high level farther west in Marshall.

Murray County requested state assistance after 8 to 10 inches of rainfall fell July 3 — double the amount of rain that typically falls the entire month of July.

Unofficially, Tracy received more than 6 inches of rain in about three hours overnight June 2 and just under 12 total, causing severe flooding in every corner of the city. “It seemed outside of downtown, no area was immune from rising water — and even sewage,” according to Per Peterson of the Tracy Headlight-Herald. Some unlucky drivers who tempted fate to navigate through deep water at certain intersections ended up abandoning their cars. “This is more water than I’ve ever seen,” said Tracy Police Chief Jason Lichty. “You can’t plan for this. I ended up rescuing a gal out of her car at Emory and Center. Her car stalled out in the water and the water filled the entire interior of her car up to the steering wheel. She was scared to get out because the water was moving fast and she couldn’t swim.” Over at Food Pride, a bread delivery truck nearly tipped over when the driver misjudged the entrance to the store parking lot. He, too, was stranded temporarily.” 

Sgt. Eric Wallen of the Lyon County Sheriff’s Office says some vehicles were trapped by rising waters. Many home basements took in water.

Currie recorded more than 8 inches of rain.

South of Tracy, Lake Shetek received 8.6 inches of rainfall, mostly within two hours July 3, contributing to the lake spilling over its banks. 

The Minnesota Department of Transportation closed highways in some flooded areas and warned travelers about the threat of moving water sweeping away vehicles.  Barricades were posted on Highway 14 just west of the Sanborn Corner about 8:30 a.m. July 4 when water began spilling over the highway just east of Lamberton. A barricade was also posted at the bridge on Highway 71 over the Big Cottonwood River near Sanborn at about 1:30 p.m. due to flooding. The bridge will remain closed until the water level recedes and crews can inspect the bridge structure.


See complete story in this week's issue of the Springfield Advance-Press.

Springfield Advance-Press

13 S. Marshall Avenue PO Box 78 Springfield, MN 56087