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Rivers hit flood stage

Rain, snow forecast

March 21, 2011
By Fritz Busch Staff Writer

NEW ULM - Ice chunks floated down the Cottonwood River Sunday as it rapidly passed under the Cottonwood Street bridge at the south end of town.

New Ulm Police closed the bridge Saturday at the river reached 12.18 feet. Moderate flood stage is 13 feet.

While the bridge was closed, passersby apparently removed yellow police tape blocking the road behind "road closed" signs and wrapped it around a nearby brush.

Article Photos

Staff photo by Fritz Busch
Motorists venture across the Cottonwood River bridge Sunday despite the fact that the City of New Ulm closed the bridge Saturday at the south edge of town. The National Weather Service forecasts the river to reach major flood stage by Tuesday afternoon.

With the tape moved away from the road, motorists ventured out on the bridge Sunday.

Some motorists turned around on the bridge. Others drove across it.

The National Weather Service (NWS) Advanced Hydrological Prediction Service forecast the Cottonwood River to continue climbing into moderate flood stage (13 feet) Sunday evening and reached major flood stage (16 feet) Tuesday afternoon.

The NWS forecast the Cottonwood to reach 17 feet Thursday morning before receding.

Additional rises may be possible thereafter, according to a Sunday NWS Flood Statement.

The Cottonwood at New Ulm reached 19 feet on Sept. 26, 2010.

The Minnesota River at New Ulm was measured at 797.07 feet Saturday. Flood stage is 796 feet.

The NWS forecast the Minnesota River to top moderate flood stage (800 feet) Thursday morning and climb to 802.4 feet Sunday morning.

A Sunday NWS Flood Statement warned of flooding on the Minnesota River at Montevideo, Granite Falls, Mankato, Henderson, Jordan, Shakopee, Savage plus the South Fork of the Crow River below Mayer and at Delano, the Crow River at Rockford, the Redwood River near Redwood Falls, the Mississippi River at St. Paul and near Hastings.

The statement added that a series of weather systems will impact the area this week that could boost river levels.

"Snowfall would be the ideal precipitation type, as it would not get into the river systems as quickly as rainfall," the statement read.

It added that there is potential for a significant amount of precipitation across southern and central Minnesota.

Isolated higher amounts of up to an inch of rain may occur with the potential for thunderstorms Tuesday.

The NWS urged motorists not to drive through flooded areas.

"Turn around, don't drown. Stay tuned to a weather radio, local radio or TV station for the latest information," the statement read.

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(Fritz Busch can be e-mailed at



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