Spring break starts out soggy for UMN area

February's record snowfall has started to melt, causing flooded streets, yards and basements around the University.

A sidewalk in Dinkytown as seen on Monday, March 18.

Dylan Anderson

A sidewalk in Dinkytown as seen on Monday, March 18.

Dylan Anderson

Akash Dhotre is a University of Minnesota graduate student from India who just experienced his first Minnesota winter. He’s now dealing with winter’s lingering effects, as his Dinkytown basement flooded last week.

“It was quite annoying,” he said. “I guess you got to deal with it.”

The record amount of snowfall in February is beginning to melt, raising concerns of flooding throughout the state. Students living around campus have dealt with flooded streets, and flooded basements have kicked off some students’ spring breaks.

Craig Schmidt, service hydrologist with the National Weather Service, said this year stands out because of the large amount of snow and significant cold.

“We just had too much darn snow too late,” Schmidt said. “With the rain on top of it, it made it much worse.”

The rain and warmer weather last week led to ponding in yards and streets, along with flooded basements, he said. When water pools in yards due to frozen ground, basement flooding becomes a concern. 

Schmidt said the substantial amount of snow across the state will produce “moderate to major spring flooding.”

A major flood stage occurs when the river reaches 17 feet, and Schmidt said the Mississippi River is very likely to hit major flood levels from St. Paul to the south. The river is currently at about 11 feet in St. Paul, with a National Weather Service forecast of nearly 20 feet by March 29.

“We’re talking 97 percent chance,” he said. “Any low areas along there are going to start to have some problems.”

Schmidt said the first week of April has the highest flooding threat, which could lead to road closures and sewer backups.

Nick Busse, communications principal with the Mississippi Watershed Management Organization, said localized flooding is often caused by plugged storm drains. The City of Minneapolis works to clear storm drains in order to avoid this kind of flooding. 

Localized flooding is expected to continue through the week, according to the National Weather Service.

University students Mai Nguyen and Tim Johnson live in a basement in Dinkytown and said they’re nervous about flooding. Johnson said they have a large pile of snow against their window.

“It hasn’t [flooded] yet, but we’ll see,” Johnson said.

Schmidt suggested people try to keep big piles of snow away from their houses and make sure water has a path to flow.

“Any place that has got a low area is going to fill up with water,” he said.