Minnesota weather: Storms cause damage and flooding in Duluth, prompt road closures in Northland

Severe storms brought flooding in northern Minnesota on Tuesday night, with several inches of rain coming down in a matter of hours in the Duluth area. 

The National Weather Service (NWS) has reported 1.5 inches to more than 7 inches of rain falling throughout several counties. Heavy rainfall led to flash flooding in areas of Duluth and the Northland. John Keefover posted a video to Facebook of water raging down stairs by his Duluth apartment, calling it "Class 5 rapids."

"This same culvert that diverts water underground by Whole Foods backed up like this in September as well as back in 2012 during the major flooding," Keefover said in the post. 

The City of Duluth in an update on Wednesday said it is continuing to investigate damage from Tuesday's storms, with initial reports indicating only "minor damages to public infrastructure" across the city. There are reports of some loose gravel in spots that washed downhill, as well as loosened asphalt road patches and dislodged manhole covers. The city will "continue to clean these issues up and mitigate damages as they come across them." 

"The good news is that all the measures the City took after the 2012 flood to shore up our infrastructure and help protect it from future storm damage have served us well," said Mayor Roger Reinert.

Meanwhile, Duluth Park Maintenance staff are assessing damage to Duluth's parks, with initial damage reports being relatively minor, including tree damage, waterlogged trails, and bridge damage. The public should be mindful as they use city parks and trails, as damage assessments "may take a few days to complete due to the remote nature of some of the locations as well as the saturated soils in those locations," a press release says. 

The St. Louis River in Jay Cooke State Park, just south of Duluth, was raging Wednesday morning. The river and others in northeastern Minnesota are high and are continuing to rise after Tuesday's storms. Here's the video: 

Meanwhile, FOX 21 reports officials with Grandma's Marathon, which is scheduled for this coming weekend, are monitoring rain events and the forecast for any potential storms. 

"Preparations for race weekend are looking great. Our staff will continue to monitor any weather-related issues and address them. That’s in addition to the work necessary every year to ready the race route for all the runners and attendees," said Mayor Reinert in Wednesday's press release. 

Road closures in the Northland

The City of Duluth said Tuesday its crews "continue to monitor road conditions due to rainfall" but encouraged people to not drive into flooded roadways, noting flooding could mask a washed-out road. 

The Minnesota Department of Transportation (MnDOT) has closed the following roads as of 9 a.m. Wednesday, according to FOX 21 in Duluth

  • Highway 1 between Sassas Road and Brown Road. The road was washed out.
  • Highway 1 between Naughty Pine Driver and Mitiwan Lake Road.
  • Highway 1 between White Pine Road and Riverside Driver.
  • Highway 1 east of Ely between Pyhola Road and Little Lake Road. The road was washed out.
  • Highway 53 just south of Independence.
  • MN 38 between Polaris Road and North Star Road, about 15 miles west of Bigfork.
  • MN 38 westbound between Highway 48 and Forest Rd 2372, about 18 miles west of Bigfork.
  • MN 65 between Link Lake Trail and County Road 52, about 22 miles north of Nashwauk.
  • MN 73 between Forest Rt 272 and Osborn Road, about 12 miles north of Chisholm.
  • MN 169 between Karjala Road and Koski Road.
  • MN 135 between 1st Avenue North and 8th Avenue North in Biwabik.
  • WI 13 east of Cornucopia is closed.

You can find the latest road closures here.

MnDOT has suggested using alternative routes.

Flood warnings have been issued across the following counties until 4 p.m. Wednesday: St. Louis, Lake, Cook, Itasca, Cass and parts of Koochiching, Crow Wing, and Carlton. In Wisconsin, Douglas, Bayfield, and Ashland counties are under the same warning.

For the latest on weather alerts, click here

FOX 21 in Duluth contributed to this report.