Brainerd breaks record high rainfall in May
Brainerd hit a record for the amount of rainfall in the month of May.
The National Weather Service in Duluth (NWS) reported Brainerd’s rainfall in May is 8.66 inches. Normal rainfall for May for Brainerd is 3.14 inches. Due to the rainfall, Gull Lake on Sunday was nearly 1 foot above normal summer operating level.
According to Mark Mortensen of the DNR Forestry Office in Brainerd, the Brainerd airport showed 8.91 inches fell so far in May.
Mortensen said for this past holiday weekend, the Brainerd airport showed 4.42 inches of rain from 8 a.m. Saturday through 8 a.m. Tuesday.
Mortensen said they report precipitation in 24-hour periods and check the measurements at 8 a.m. daily, with 3.09 inches Sunday, 1.12 inches Monday and .21 inches Tuesday.
All the rain in Brainerd and surrounding areas has caused flooding concerns. The NWS continued to the Mississippi River was near flood stage at Brainerd, Aitkin and Fort Ripley.
On Tuesday, the NWS reported river levels continued to rise due to the heavy rainfall and are expected to continue to rise through the next 24 to 48 hours as the water drains into the river basins. The NWS reported numerous flood warnings in effect across the northland.
➤ Brainerd: The NWS reported the Mississippi River level in Brainerd was at 14.19 feet on Tuesday afternoon. A minor flood stage is reached at 13 feet with low-lying areas affected. Moderate flooding occurs at 16 feet. This crest compares to a previous crest of 14.6 feet on April 30, 1966.
➤ Fort Ripley: The Mississippi River at Fort Ripley, as of 4 p.m. Tuesday, was 11.09 feet and projected to reach the top edge where minor flooding moves to the moderate stage at 12.5 feet. The river forecast calls for a high of 12.5 feet Thursday through Saturday before flood waters begin to slowly recede. Flood state on the river at Fort Ripley is 10 feet.
➤ Aitkin: The Mississippi River near Aitkin was reported at 14.82 feet at 4 p.m. Tuesday. Flood stage at 12 feet. The NWS reports that minor flooding is occurring and moderate flooding is forecast. The river is expected to continue to rise to near 15.5 feet by Thursday night and then begin to fall. At 15 feet, minor flooding of low-lying area occurs in Aitkin. The river has to rise to 18 feet at Aitkin to reach major flooding levels.
Since Saturday, the Crow Wing River near Pillager has risen from about 5.5 feet to 7.8 feet as of 3:30 p.m. Tuesday.
The Gull Lake area received 7.71 inches of precipitation since May 19. Nearly 3 inches of rain was recorded Sunday.
Corrine Hodapp, supervisor and park ranger at the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers of the Gull Dam and Recreation Area, which operates the reservoir, pulled the stop logs and fully opened all gates from the lake at the dam.
“We’re monitoring it (the reservoir) and as of right now there is no change in the level of water,” Hodapp said Tuesday afternoon. “The extended forecast shows minimal rain so we’re hoping to be able to level it off and have it discharging water instead of it flowing in.
“You never expect 3 inches of rain and then you top that with all the rain we’ve received ... But we have four rangers on site and we’re working with the water control folks in St. Paul. We’re doing what we need to do to take care of the dam.”
Hodapp said the flooding issues reported at Lake Pokegama in Grand Rapids will not impact the Gull Lake Dam, as the two bodies of water are not tied together.
“It will not impact our discharge,” said Hodapp.
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers reported that the Grand Rapids’ lake is expected to rise rapidly over the next few days. Lake Pokegama is a flood-control reservoir so flows from the dam are being decreased to alleviate downstream flooding, making the lake level rise. The corps reported Pokegama’s lake level could rise 1 to 2 feet.
“Regulating the reservoirs for flood control is a balancing act as to how much water to hold in the reservoir and how much water to release, so the minimum amount of damage is caused both on the reservoir and along the river,” said Corps’ hydraulic engineer Brian Johnson in a news release.
The Cass County Sheriff’s Office reported that, due to recent heavy rainfalls throughout the month of May, the Gull Lake chain, including Lake Margaret and channels, have significantly higher water than normal.
Sheriff Tom Burch reminds homeowners to take caution and ensure that boat lifts, boats, docks, rafts and other items are properly secured and not floating loose. Burch urges boaters to use extreme caution and be respectful of property while in these high-water areas, especially channels, due to increased swift currents. There have been several reports of property damage, along with docks, floating bogs and other items that have floated loose from the shore.
Burch said careless operation of watercraft laws will be enforced. This situation will continue to be monitored by the Cass County Sheriffs Office and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.
One-inch hail was reported in Ironton and Aitkin during Monday’s thunderstorms. A trained spotter by Farm Island Lake near Aitkin reported , with 1.75 inch hail. Two-inch inch hail was reported by Milaca on Monday afternoon.