Unofficial reports shows up to 10 inches in Aitkin County as flash flood warnings issued
AITKIN, Minn.—Aitkin County was hit hard by rain during an early morning storm Thursday, July 12, raising concerns for flooding in the area.
Rainfall of up to 10 inches was unofficially reported in some areas of Aitkin County. One report indicated a 7.5-inch rain gauge filled to the top with rain still falling. Others reported rain gauges tipping over because there was more water falling than they could hold.
The rain totals were reported to the Aitkin County Sheriff's Office and the National Weather Service in Duluth. Aitkin County is in a flash flood warning. As of 10:30 a.m. Thursday, the Mississippi River was at 11.26 feet and it's expected to reach 14 feet about 7 a.m. Sunday. The river may reach 13 feet by about midnight Thursday, according to the NWS.
Aitkin County Sheriff Scott Turner toured the county to assess rain and flood damage.
"The southern end of the county got hit the hardest," Turner said. "All of Aitkin County got pretty heavy rain last night. The reports I received from talking to people I know, the rainfall ranged from 2.3 inches to about 10 inches, down in the Mille Lacs area.
"The heaviest flooding I saw was southeast of McGrath, where the Snake River crosses. ... The ditches are full, the roads are impacted and we have some erosion on several gravel roads."
Water covered roads from Hill City to McGrath and portions of Highway 18; Aitkin County Road 2, east of Malmo; and Aitkin County Road 61, a gravel road with several areas under water.
"We ask people to turn around, don't drown, which is the national buzz for flooded roads," Turner said. "We have roads that have deep water and others with water on them. We ask motorists to please be careful as conditions are changing. When we have heavy rains, especially at night, it is not a good time to be on the roads.
"Our systems are full so our ability to handle rain is somewhat diminished."
The NWS reported an elderly care facility in Aitkin had water flowing into the first floor. The weather service's Doppler radar indicated as much as 4-6 inches of rain fell across southern Aitkin County. Some locations that may experience flooding include Crosby, Aitkin, Deerwood, McGregor, Malmo, Cuyuna and Garrison. Quarter-inch size hail was reported in Pequot Lakes.
Outside of Aitkin County, a tree was knocked down on Cass County Road 25, west of Pine River, blocking the road; and a gravel road was washed out on 32nd Street Southwest in Pine River.