World & Nation

Duluth declares unprecedented flood ‘emergency’ as rain pounds area

As record rainfall and flooding continue in northeastern Minnesota, the National Weather Service in Duluth has gone beyond issuing a flash-flood warning and ramped it up to a “flash-flood emergency.”

Calling the weather conditions “very dangerous, very intense and very unusual,” Mike Stewart of the weather service told the Los Angeles Times on Wednesday morning: “This is a first, at least for the area. We’ve never done a flash-flood emergency.”

“The flooding is the worst we’ve had since 1972" in the Twin Ports area and along the north shore of Lake Superior, he added. 

PHOTOS: Duluth struggling with floodwaters


The weather also spurred Duluth Mayor Don Ness to declare a state of emergency in his city Wednesday morning.

“We have got more than 9 inches of rain in some neighborhoods in Duluth in less than 24 hours,” Ness told The Times by email.

As flooding along the St. Louis River threatens, residents of the town of Thomson and the small Duluth-area neighborhood of Fond du Lac have been ordered to evacuate -- and the busy Jay Cooke State Park has been emptied of visitors, Stewart said.

Due to the heavy rainfall, water will be released from a local dam, the meteorologist said, which is expected to cause the river to rise rapidly.


Both the University of Minnesota campus in Duluth and the University of Wisconsin, Superior campus were closed Wednesday. The UMD website cited “flooding in low-lying areas. Travel can be dangerous.”

Stewart said roads were treacherous and that many routes were closed.  

Heavy rain continued Wednesday morning, with 1 to 2 inches more expected as severe thunderstorms moved through the area. Relief could come by the afternoon, though, as the rain was expected to begin tapering off.

“Then,” Stewart said, “we can start recovering here.”


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