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Rainy Lake peaks, drops after setting flood record

The forecast calls for a mostly dry period as waterfront properties remain flooded.

Sandbags form a lifted grade road above flooded waters.
The emergency grade raise of state Highway 11 east of International Falls by the Minnesota Department of Transportation is allowing businesses such as Island View Lodge and the Sha Sha Resort in the Island View Township to remain open despite flood waters on Rainy Lake. The lake appears to have peaked and may be dropping some.
Contributed / Koochiching County Emergency Operations Center
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INTERNATIONAL FALLS — Rainy Lake has set a new record flood level but appears to have peaked and may be headed down, the National Weather Service in Duluth reported Monday afternoon.

That's good news for waterfront property owners, some of whom have been laying sandbags for a month to keep floodwaters out of their homes and businesses.

“The lake appears to have crested and fallen slightly,” the Weather Service noted. The level of Rainy Lake is expected to fall by 1.5 to 3 inches over the next week. But, with inflow very close to outflow, “the lake remains vulnerable to rising again should heavy rainfall occur across the region.”

Rainy Lake on Monday was at 1,113.2 feet above sea level, 22 inches above the 2014 peak and still 2.5 inches above the past record set in 1950.

Meanwhile, upstream on the Rainy River watershed, Namakan, Kabetogama and Crane lakes continued their slow descent from modern record levels. The lakes are expected to drop another foot over the next week which would still be higher than the peak 2014 flood level.

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Downstream, Lake of the Woods continued to rise well past the modern-day flood record set in 2014. After rising 2.5 inches in the past week, the lake’s level Monday was 1063.1 feet, nearly a foot above 2014 but still 11 inches below the all-time record in 1950.

The level of Lake of the Woods is expected to rise by approximately 2-3 inches over the next week, depending on the rainfall. If dry weather continues “a peak may be reached by the end of June followed by a gradual drop. However, a return to normal summer levels will likely take many weeks and will be delayed should there be a return to wet weather,” the Lake of the Woods Control Board reported Monday.

John Myers reports on the outdoors, natural resources and the environment for the Duluth News Tribune. You can reach him at jmyers@duluthnews.com.
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