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Top 10 – #7 Extreme Weather: Floods then Drought

Pete Nyblom

UNDATED – Unless you’ve been holed up in cave this year, you know we had some extreme weather throughout 2011. Rain, flooding, drought – that’s the topic of number 7 in our Top Ten Stories of 2011 countdown.

2011 began predictably enough – snow fell, snow melted. The Sauk River reached flood stage on April 6th, but as compared to other parts of the state and North Dakota, we fared well.

Then, we drifted into summertime – and that’s when things started to get interesting.

Between 4 and 5 pm on June 21, a slow-moving line of thunderstorms moved through Waite Park and west-central St. Cloud. This heavy rainfall caused flash flooding and stalled vehicles around the metro area. Area storm sewers were unable to handle the volume of water, and a number of streets around the metro area were blocked the following day.

Water levels in lakes and rivers rose, placing the Sauk River 3-4 feet about average.

All told, there were 11 days of measurable rain in June, totaling 5.36 inches.

The rain continued through July, with another 11 days of measurable rain throughout the month, making it the 12th wettest on record and the wettest since 1997.

This contributed to troublesome conditions for folks swimming and boating, some even needing emergency rescues.

We ended July 2 inches above the average rainfall total. This also prompted Stearns county to place no-wake zones on lakes throughout the area which lasted most of the summer.

Then, a complete 180 degree turn.

After eight months where the rain seemed endless, St. Cloud hit a wicked dry spell during the next six weeks.

The September Weather Summary from St. Cloud State University says the official rainfall last month totaled only three-quarters of an inch, 2 3/4″ below normal, tying September of 1922 for the fourth driest on record in St. Cloud.

October continued the dry trend, with only 5 days of measurable rainfall through the month. As a result, the National Weather Service issued red flag warnings to warn against the potential for fires to spread quickly.

Now, as we head into the winter months, forecasters are calling for colder and snowier conditions than usual.

And if the months leading up to now are any indicator, we shouldn’t really count on predictable weather.

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