Overland flooding closes roads in Wilkin County, other parts of the region
Overland flooding has forced Wilkin County to close several roads, and conditions are expected to worsen as the day wears on and more snow melts, County Engineer Tom Richels said.
Other highways in the region also are seeing overland flooding.
The problem, Richels said, is that water is flowing in the fields rather than in the ditches, which are still packed tight with snow.
"If it was in the ditches, we could control it, and the water gets regulated by the culverts and that," he said. "But when it's out in the fields, there isn't a whole lot we can do with it."
Eighteen inches of water covering County Road 52 north of Rothsay forced county crews to block the road with barricades Sunday night, he said.
The worst flooding is in the northeast corner of the county, where the terrain is hillier and water flows faster, quickly eating through snow, he said.
Other roads underwater include County Road 188 north of Rothsay and County Road 171 southwest of Rothsay.
Water also has crept onto Highway 34 west of Osage and on Highway 200, said Dennis Redig, maintenance superintendent for the Minnesota Department of Transportation's Detroit Lakes District.
Department crews are trying to open ditches and culverts to get the water flowing, he said. Water was about halfway into a driving lane on Interstate 94 south of Highway 108 Sunday night, but that ditch is now flowing, he said.
Richels said samples taken last week found the ground was still frozen at least 30 inches down.
"None of the water is soaking in at all," he said.
Richels said he measured ice 30 inches thick on the Otter Tail River about two miles east of Breckenridge on Sunday, "which is pretty amazing. I live right there and I've never seen the ice that thick on that river in the past. So I don't know what kind of problems that might cause as that river starts to pick up flow."
Wilkin County is considering building a clay dike along Highway 210 about 10 miles east of Breckenridge to keep water off the road, he said. Construction may start later today.
Redig said more road closures are possible.
"It didn't cool off enough last night to kind of slow the runoff, so there could be more yet today," he said.
Despite the road closures, Richels said this is "a fairly typical flood, nothing extraordinary at this point.
"Later today we'll know a whole lot more, because we're going to get pretty good melting," he said.