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Water Levels Update

(Updated Monday, October 21)

Potential For Localized Flooding October 21-22

The National Weather Service is forecasting between 1-2 inches of rain for the Minnehaha Creek wastershed starting Monday and continuing into Tuesday. With water levels already high across the watershed, MCWD is advising communities across MCWD about the likelihood of locatlized flooding. 

2019 Remains Second Wettest Year to Date on Record

2019 continues to rank as the second wettest year to date (since record keeping began in 1871) with 37.81 inches of rain falling between Jan. 1 – Oct. 20. For comparison, in a normal year the Twin Cities receives approximately 30.61 inches of precipitation total (from Jan. 1 - Dec. 31). With 37.81 inches of rain thus far in 2019, we have received more rain than the entire calendar year (Jan. 1 - Dec. 31) in 2017 (32.36 inches) and 2018 (33.57 inches).  

Lake Minnetonka & Gray's Bay Dam

  • Today's lake level reading is 929.18 feet above sea level, which is 2.64 inches below the ordinary high water (OHW) elevation of 929.40

  • Due to Minnehaha Creek currently running near bank full, the Gray's Bay Dam discharge was reduced to 150 cubic feet per second last Friday, Oct. 18 to create capacity in Minnehaha Creek for the anticpated rain

Minnehaha Creek

  • Minnehaha Creek is currently flowing around 290 cfs near Hiawatha Avenue
  • We anticipate that this rain will cause the creek to overflow its banks in some spots
  • High flows are expected to continue on the creek as high water levels persist across the watershed
  • MCWD is advising people that it is unsafe to paddle the creek at this time. Ideal creek flow for paddling is between 75 - 150 cfs. Flows above 150 cfs can make it difficult to react to obstacles (downed trees, branches, etc) in the creek and to pass under some bridges. There are some obstacles in the creek, as city crews are working to remove them as they are able. Learn more about paddling conditions

Record Setting Precipitation

The spring of 2019 was exceptionally wet which continued a record setting wet trend that started in 2013. The MN Department of Natural Resources (DNR) State Climatology office has observed that 2013 - 2018 finished as the wettest six-year period on record since record keeping began in the 1870s. During those six years an extra year’s worth of precipitation fell (~30 inches), meaning we have received seven years’ worth of rain in a six-year period. 2019 continued this wet trend not only across Minnesota, but across the entire contiguous United States.

The 2019 spring flooding resulted in over $32 million in estimated damages to public property and infrastructure across 50 counties and four tribal nations across the State of Minnesota.

Looking Ahead and Coordination with Agency Experts

The two-week outlook from the National Weather Service shows above average precipitation. 

Since March, MCWD has been actively coordinating with staff from the National Weather Service, U.S. Geological Survey, and Hennepin County Emergency Management to understand spring flooding predictions, water content of snow, current stream flows, and emergency coordination efforts. Prior to snowmelt, MCWD ran several hydrologic snowmelt modeling scenarios to identify the locations that could face potential spring flood risk. We coordinated the results of this modeling, as well as modeling for the upcoming rain event, with all 29 communities in the MCWD.
MCWD will continue to coordinate daily with agency partners, National Weather Service, U.S. Geological Survey, and Hennepin County Emergency Management to consult and review data to help inform Gray's Bay Dam operations.

The National Weather Service provides MCWD with seven-day precipitation forecasts and a prediction for how that precipitation will affect water levels. With this information, we can proactively create storage for the forecasted precipitation. Dam discharge can then be reduced before rainstorms and that storage is used to prevent flooding on Minnehaha Creek. MCWD also uses real-time weather data provided by Hennepin West Mesonet weather stations installed on MCWD properties and real-time water level data from the U.S. Geological Survey gauges on Lake Minnetonka and Minnehaha Creek.

Tips for Property Owners

Get the latest information by visiting our website and signing up for email updates.

Review your insurance coverage. There is a 30-day waiting period before a flood insurance policy takes effect. Learn more about flood insurance. Check to see if your policy covers sanitary sewer back-ups. More information is available from the Insurance Information Institute. Other resources include:

For specific questions about local flood response, including where to find sand bags and other resources, contact your city.

Minnehaha Creek

  • Edina – Dave Goergen, Public Works Coordinator, 952-826-0312
  • Hopkins - Hopkins Public Works, 952-939-1382
  • Minneapolis - 311 or 612-673-3000
  • Minnetonka – Minnetonka Public Works, 952-988-8400 between 7am-3:30pm
  • St. Louis Park – Steve Koering, Fire Chief, 612-790-4019

Lake Minnetonka

  • Deephaven – Dana Young, City Administrator, 952-358-9939
  • Excelsior - Tim Amundsen, Public Works Superintendent, 952-653-3676
  • Greenwood - Dana Young, City Clerk, 952-358-9939
  • Orono – 952-249-4600, after hours call Dispatch at 952-258-5321
  • Wayzata – Mike Kelly, City Engineer/Director of Public Works, 952-404-5316

Water Level Resources