Mississippi River through La Crosse rises above 10 feet for first time since 2020

Published: May. 24, 2022 at 4:48 PM CDT
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LA CROSSE, Wis. (WEAU) - For the first time since April 2020, the waters of the Mississippi River through La Crosse have climbed above 10 feet.

National Weather Service Meteorologist Dan Baumgardt says recent severe weather is causing the elevated water levels.

“We’ve had a fairly active spring with a number of thunderstorm waves coming through the area, and that’s given Minnesota some rainfall,” Baumgardt explained. “Minnesota is typically where we see most of the water in the Mississippi coming through our area from.”

While the Mississippi is still more than one foot below flood stage, some areas around the river are being impacted by the high water.

The Upper Mississippi River National Wildlife and Fish Refuge normally has docks in the water near the Dresbach Welcome Center, but the boat launch is experiencing some minor flooding.

As a result, Refuge Ranger Katie Julian says the docks won’t be installed until the water recedes, which may take a few weeks.

Julian is recommending people stay off the river for the time being due to how difficult the severe weather has made it to navigate.

“The water is hard to read when it’s murky, so anytime we have big rain events where water is moving maybe faster than usual along the river, it carries a lot more sediment and can also carry other forms of debris,” Julian said. “There are miscellaneous things out there that cause problems while boating, so we want people to be safe when they’re out there.”

As of now, the National Weather Service doesn’t expect the Mississippi to hit its 12 foot flood stage as long as the weather cooperates.

“In general, we expect the river to kind of top out in the next week or so, and then start to slowly fall,” Baumgardt detailed. “That fall rate will depend on how many thunderstorm waves we get through the area, and how much rain Minnesota will receive.”

Before last week, it had been 759 days since the Mississippi River at La Crosse had water levels above 10 feet.

According to the National Weather Service, that stretch is the fifth-longest since 1937.

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