Heavy rain swamps NorthlandTorrential rains caused flooding Tuesday evening in parts of the Northland, causing police to close a portion of scenic Highway 61 and Duluth police to ban all but emergency travel.
By: Andrew Krueger and John Lundy, Duluth News Tribune
Torrential rains caused flooding Tuesday evening in parts of the Northland, causing police to close a portion of scenic Highway 61 and Duluth police to ban all but emergency travel.
“We want all traffic to be emergency travel,” said Lt. Jeff Kazel just before 10 p.m., citing flash flooding in numerous city intersections.
The Minnesota State Patrol closed Highway 61 between Duluth and Two Harbors and at Silver Creek Tunnel northeast of Two Harbors late on Tuesday. The Lake County sheriff requested no travel in these areas until further notice. Police in Floodwood also advised against travel.
Some of the heaviest rain occurred near Grand Rapids, with close to
8 inches recorded in places, said Rick Hluchen, a National Weather Service meteorologist in Duluth. Another 5 inches was recorded in Two Harbors, he said. The Knife River between Duluth and Two Harbors rose 4 feet between noon and late Tuesday, Hluchen said.
A flash flood warning was posted for much of the region. It was scheduled to expire at midnight Tuesday, but it probably would be extended, Hluchen said.
Western parts of Duluth were hit hard, with flooding at Grand Avenue and Raleigh Street, the entrances to Morgan Park and Commonwealth and Stowe streets, Kazel said. There also was flooding at Hugo Avenue and Myrtle Street in Piedmont Heights, at 8200 E. Superior St. and at Kenwood Avenue and Buffalo Street, he said.
“There are 3 or 4 inches on the road, making it very hazardous, and we’re expecting more rain,” Kazel said.
More than 4 inches of rain fell in Floodwood.
Scenic Highway 61 was closed as early as 8 p.m. in Larsmont as water rushed over the road. Even the roadway on the higher Highway 61 Expressway had water standing on it south and east of Two Harbors. The Knife River ran high and brown.
In Duluth, Superior Street was impassable where it met the expressway as small rapids formed in about a foot of water. The street was covered entirely by up to six inches of water throughout most of Lakeside and at street crossings at higher elevations in Congdon Park.
In some areas along Superior Street, water spouted through manhole covers out of storm water mains.
Preliminary rainfall reports from the National Weather Service on Tuesday evening, with heavy rain still falling, included:
As of 10 p.m. Tuesday, Western Lake Superior Sanitary District rain gauge reports included 3.17 inches at Scanlon, 2.5 inches in Hermantown, 2.37 inches in Rice Lake Township, 2.13 inches in Lakeside and 1.93 inches in Duluth’s Endion neighborhood.
The sensor in the gauge at the Duluth International Airport was broken, so meteorologists were making manual checks as time allowed, Hluchen said. The most up-to-date reading was 2.38 inches, he said.
As of 10:30 p.m., Hluchen said heavy rain at a rate of 2 to 3 inches per hour — and in some places more — could be expected for several more hours. More rain is expected later today, with up to another one-half inch, Hluchen said.
Rainfall rates in excess of an inch an hour were common across the region.
Other reports by News Tribune readers and the National Weather Service:
The Weather Service expressed concern about flash flooding along the higher terrain of the North Shore, possibly affecting Highway 61 overnight.
News Tribune reporter Mike Creger contributed to this report.