Ideal weather helps slow snow melt, reducing area flood threat

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With the temperarure reaching the year’s high of 57 degrees last Wednesday children who have been cooped up all winter long were anxious to be outside playing.

Since it reached its peak of 17.5 feet March 24, the Chippewa River has fallen 4 feet allowing water that was once encroaching on the Hawleywood Addition of Benson to drain away.

Flood concerns were considerably reduced as the area saw more than two weeks of temperatures that warmed during the day to between 32 and 57 degrees, then saw evening lows fall below freezing again, slowing the snowmelt.

It also helped that there has been no precipitation since March 14.

It was just 10 days ago that three excavators were working to free ice jams at the Burlington Northern Sante Fe railroad bridge over the Chippewa River south of Minnesota Highway 9. Ice floes were lodging against the bridge pylons, creating a dam that caused river levels to rise to the north of the bridge.

As the waters rose, they spread across the Benson Golf Course edging up to Hawleywood. Fearing the right conditions of an ice dam combined with a fast snowmelt and rain could make conditions worsen quickly, the City of Benson put large sand bags along the golf club service road to protect Hawleywood homes.

The service road runs along the west side of the Hawleywood subdivision and is at an elevation of 1,032 feet. During the 1997 and 2001 floods, water came within a half a foot of flowing over the road.

If the water level exceeds the 1,032 feet of the golf course road, at least one home in Hawleywood would be at risk of flooding.  Just two feet higher, at the 1,034 level, and seven more homes would be flooded unless they were sandbagged or the city put up a protective dike.

At 1,036, the highest flood stage the city has estimated, the total number of homes susceptible to flood waters would rise to 27.

The March 24 flooding threat ended once excavators freed the ice floes jammed up at the BNSF bridge causing the Chippewa River to begin to fall quickly. No rain and a slow melt also helped....

 

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Pictured: With the temperarure reaching the year’s high of 57 degrees last Wednesday children who have been cooped up all winter long were anxious to be outside playing.

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