Flooding Hits Austin and Surrounding Region Hard - September 14-15, 2004

Last Updated: 10/5/04


After a relatively dry month, a potent late summer storm system brought very heavy rain to parts of southeast Minnesota and northeast Iowa on Tuesday, Sept.14th, and Wednesday, Sept.15th. Rain was most intense from near Mason City, Iowa through the Albert Lea/Austin, MN area to areas around Rochester, MN. There were many areas that had over 4 inches of rain, with isolated higher amounts. In fact, the highest unofficial totals were out of the Blooming Prairie, MN area with 11.50 inches and 13.00 inches reported.

Click here for a listing of rainfall totals from the event.

Flash Flooding was the initial problem, but as all that rain drained into river basins, many of the regional rivers and creeks saw dramatic rises overnight Tuesday into Wednesday morning. The Austin, MN area saw very high to record crest levels on the Cedar River and creeks leading into it. Other rivers affected included the Upper Iowa, Zumbro, and Root.

Hardest hit was the Austin, MN area where flooding affected parts of the city and widespread sand bagging efforts took place. A 20-year old man, who was walking to work, walked into high water and was swept away. A 51-year old man also died of a heart attack while sand bagging.

River Crests

  • Turtle Creek @ Austin - Crested 14.8 ft around 3:00 a.m. Sept.16th. Flood stage is 10.5 ft.
  • Dobbins Creek @ Austin - Crested 14.5 ft around 1:00 p.m. Sept.15th. Flood stage is 11.5 ft.
  • Cedar River @ Lansing - Crested 23.4 ft around 4:00 p.m. Sept.15th. Flood stage is 18.0 ft.
  • Cedar River @ Austin - Crested 24.8 ft around 10:00 p.m. Sept.15th. Flood stage is 15.0 ft.
  • Cedar River @ Charles City - Crested 20.6 ft @ 145 p.m. Sept.17th. Flood stage is 12 ft.

    A Flood Watch had been in effect for southern Minnesota by Tuesday morning, and was expanded to the Mississippi River Tuesday afternoon. Numerous Flash Flood and River Flood Warnings were issued starting Tuesday evening and continued through Thursday, Sept.16th.

    Images

    Storm Total Rainfall estimates from KARX Doppler Radar. Regional view of estimated rainfall.
    Flooding in Dodge Co., MN. Photo by Bobby Benke. Flooding in Spring Valley, MN. Photo by Kathy Foster. Flooding in Charles City, IA. Photo by Chris Bergeson.
    Hydrograph from Dobbins Creek, Austin, MN. Hydrograph from Austin, MN. Hydrograph from Charles City, IA.
    Hydrograph from Lansing, MN. Hydrograph from Turtle Creek, near Austin, MN.
    Minnesota Climatology Working Group summary of event - click here


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