Weather: Endless winter pushes river water higher

At 4:30 p.m. Saturday, April 22, the National Weather Service in Duluth reported the Mississippi River at Aitkin was at 17.2 feet, more than 4 feet above flood stage.

High water in Aitkin
The city of Aitkin grapples with flood waters Saturday, April 22, 2023, from the Mississippi River and Ripple River.
Kelly Humphrey / Brainerd Dispatch

BRAINERD — Helped along by several inches of snow Thursday and Friday, flood warnings remain in effect on the Mississippi River at Aitkin and Fort Ripley until further notice.

At 4:30 p.m. Saturday, April 22, the National Weather Service in Duluth reported the Mississippi River at Aitkin was at 17.2 feet, more than 4 feet above flood stage.

At 17 feet, pumping began at the wastewater treatment plant, and sandbagging started around city utilities and residences on the north side of Aitkin.

High water in Aitkin
Sandbags are placed by an Aitkin home to protect it Saturday, April 22, 2023, from the rising waters of the Mississippi River
Kelly Humphrey / Brainerd Dispatch

The weather service reported the water level on the river was expected to start to fall Sunday and remain below the 13 foot flood stage.

Saturday in Fort Ripley, the river was at 11.8 feet, more than a foot above the flood stage and was expected to crest at about 12 feet Sunday.


Weather likely played a role in a Crow Wing Power outage Thursday and Friday affecting about 1,200 customers north of Brainerd. With heavy, wet snow falling across the area, a tree fell on a feeder line near the Emily substation, cutting power for customers. Char Kinzer, Crow Wing Power public relations manager, said Friday that other branches breaking with the heavy spring snow were the cause of outages. By 2 p.m. Friday, power was restored to all but five customers and later Friday power was restored across the board. Outages started Thursday night with a peak after midnight Thursday. On Friday, a second outage from late morning to early afternoon affected about 600 customers.

Thursday’s heavy snowfall left 15 inches of snow in Silver Bay and Hovland on the North Shore with 10 inches at Castle Danger. Locally, snowfall ranged from about 4 inches to nearly 8 inches. The wet, sticky snow clung to tree branches and made for a wintry scene with snow falling, sometimes heavily and with big flakes, sporadically throughout the day Friday. The lakes area may have resembled December more than April although temperatures were mild in the 30s.

Temperatures in the Brainerd lakes area will gradually move toward average, with highs of 46 degrees Monday, 49 degrees Tuesday, 54 degrees Wednesday, 55 degrees Thursday and 48 degrees Friday. There is a chance of rain Thursday, Friday and Saturday.

Snowfall totals

Snowfall totals as of Friday morning, April 21.

7.7 inches Pine River

7.4 inches Menahga

6.5 inches Deer Creek


6.4 Cass Lake

6 inches Jenkins

6 inches Merrifield

6 inches Backus

5.5 inches Pillager

5.4 inches Crosby

5 inches Outing

4.5 inches St. Mathias


4.5 inches Mission

4 inches Motley

4 inches Deerwood

3.7 inches Fort Ripley

Source: National Weather Service

High water in Aitkin
High water from the Mississippi River on Saturday, April 22, 2023, inundates a park in Aitkin.
Kelly Humphrey / Brainerd Dispatch

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