It was nice to see a lot of folks out and about looking at the rushing river and enjoying the sunny warmth this past Easter weekend. It was perfect early spring weather for being out and about and we took advantage of it on Saturday for a bit of spring cleaning and sorting through some of the many things that seem to clutter up our garage. It’s time to clean it out. That clean-out bug hits every spring and the city’s clean-up day will soon be here, on May 10th, and a lot of folks have a growing list of items to get rid of.
While Saturday was a good day for getting some work accomplished, Easter Sunday was a fine family day, just right for going to church, a relaxing meal and time to visit. And, we capped off the day with a bike ride out to the Memorial Park bike trail loop. The early signs of spring were popping up everywhere and that hint of green leaves and grass was impossible to miss. The weekend was like a mini vacation, a nice break from the routine and from the worries about flood waters. Even at that, it was impossible to not pay some attention to the river.
Mark Jensen, on Sunday, had questions about the coming second crest and so did a quite a few other folks. The good news is that it appears the river’s secondary crest has arrived, and it appears to be slowly receding once again. River crests are always a bit of a guessing game but, barring a heavy rainfall, it now appears the roaring Minnesota has hit its final peak for this spring. Later, on Monday, Tim Opdahl asked how this crest compares to the flood crest we saw a few weeks ago. That sent me digging a bit. Although it has been less than a month, March 31 seems like a year ago when the river crested at 893.52 feet (above sea level). That is 2.93 feet higher than latest high reading, taken early Tuesday morning at 890.59 feet.
Unofficially, the first (and highest) crest this year looks to be the sixth-highest recorded flood in Granite Falls. There will be some discussion about the accuracy of those records, and we’ll check in to that but any way you look at it. This has been a high and long-lasting flood. What amazes me is that we didn’t have any real amount of snow until mid-January. Then it started to snow almost every day. The winter that produced the record flood in April of 1997 (a crest of 899.84 feet) started with an ice storm in mid-November and brought nearly weekly, recurring blizzards and a January thaw with more than an inch of rain.
It’s scary to think what the river elevation would be if this past winter’s six weeks of heavy snowfall from mid-January through February would have started in mid-November, or even in mid-December. No doubt we would have had a whopper of a flood on our hands. The variables in our Minnesota weather can bring lots of surprises. Meanwhile, let’s enjoy the spring and get on with spring clean-up.
Last Thursday, for the third time since late March, we heard MnDOT Com-missioner Margaret Anderson Kelliher speak about the need for adding long-term sustainable funding that is needed to maintain and improve Minnesota’s roads and bridges. This time it was at our monthly League of Minnesota Cities (LMC) Board of Directors meeting ion St. Paul. Previously we’ve seen her at the Highway 23 Coalition meeting near St. Cloud and at a meeting of Highway 212 advocates in Chaska.
Each time her message was consistent and clear. Without additional funding, Minnesota’s roads will continue to deteriorate and safety improvements will not happen. She is a down-to-earth and gifted speaker who connects well with her audience. She is also unflappable when taking tough questions from the audience and seems to realize that asking the public for more money is a tough sell.
However, she points out that the public’s money gets spent one way or the other, whether it is spent by idling in traffic congestion, paying for car repairs brought about by rough road conditions, wasted time or unsafe road conditions that contribute to accidents or injuries. Following her presentation, the LMC board gladly endorsed a resolution asking the legislature to provide the long-term, sustainable funding needed for better roads and bridges.
Now we hope that the legislature gets back to work following their Easter/Passover break and gets busy addressing the many needs that Minnesota faces. There has been little accomplished so far this session and they have a looming adjournment date of May 20th. It will be a race to the finish. Hopefully they can agree on much-needed funding for the state’s roads and bridges as well as the state’s other important needs. Hopefully it doesn’t take a special session to accomplish that. Maybe the spring weather will inspire them to get a bit more work done.