A fast thaw has Minnesota river towns on alert this spring

Only two-and-a-half weeks ago, high temperatures were still below zero in the Minnesota area, but now we are close to 50.

A quick thaw is usually never good news for flood forecasts, but this year, even that outlook is unusual. That rapid melt is grabbing some attention.

David Engler has lived in Carver, a town at the mercy of the Minnesota River, all his life. He remembers helping sand bag while in high school more than 50 years ago when the river took over the town.

In 1965, he recalls, the river flooded the entire bottom part of the town.

Every year the river is a concern for communities all along it. In recent years, the concern is even greater.

"In the last 11 years, I’ve lost track of the number of 100-year floods we’ve had," said Mayor Courtney Johnson, of Carver.

Johnson says it’s a constant effort as the city looks to improve the levy while keeping an eye on the forecast.

"In 2019, the river was at or above flood stage for more weeks than it was below," said Johnson.

The good news is that, even with a massive temperature swing from -17 degrees to nearly 50 degrees now, the threat of spring floods still remains low.

"This is the time of year when we’re always on the lookout for what the spring thaw will bring and we’re hearing good news, so good for us in the city of Carver," said Johnson.

The biggest wild card on the rivers is still the potential of ice jams since it’s breaking up so quickly. On all the rivers the National Weather Service watches, the levels are low and the water is slow. Without high and fast water, that potential at this point looks to stay low, too.

A quick melt without a threat is a nice break.