Saturday soaker

MARSHALL – The sun made an appearance for most of the day Sunday to shed some bright light on a Saturday deluge that filled up ditches and left behind mini lakes in numerous corn and soybean fields in southwest Minnesota.

Marshall received a little more than 3.5 inches, but farther south into Murray County anywhere from 5 to 5.5 inches fell Saturday.

Drought conditions have persisted in Minnesota since last year, but those issues are nothing more than a memory now as homeowners are running their sump pumps non-stop and farmers are left now to worry only about temperatures, which they hope will climb in the coming days to spur growth and dry things about a bit.

Marshall Mayor and U of M Extension Director of Field Operations Bob Byrnes said most crops should be OK, but if more rain falls in the next couple days, it could be a different story.

“What needs to happen for those crops in standing water or under waterwe can go a few days without the death of plants, so if that water does drain down there’s still a good chance those plants will survive. If we continue to get rain, which is forecast in the next three or four days, we could be looking at a loss of plants.”

South of Lyon County, all four lanes of Interstate 90 from Luverne to the South Dakota border were closed Saturday. The eastbound lanes were reopened about 8:30 a.m. Sunday. North of Luverne, flooding occurred at Blue Mounds State Park, as the spillway that holds back water for a swimming pond washed away, the Associated Press reported.

Secondary roads were under water in Rock and Murray counties as well.

Although the heaviest weekend rains in the region fell south of Marshall, the Redwood River in Marshall reached about 11.75 inches but has been receding since early Sunday. In Russell, the river went from about 10 feet Saturday to 13.02 feet Sunday. Flood stage on the river is 14 feet. The highest it’s been in Russell is 20.01 feet in the fall of 2010. It reached 18.11 feet in April 2011. In Marshall, it reached 17.09 inches in 2010, and “at that point we still had about 18 inches at Wayside Park, which is now Patriot Park,” Byrnes said. “That’s the point that overflow would happen, but we’re a long way from there now.”

Byrnes said although the river is high, it’s not a main concern at this point, thanks to past flood mitigation around the city. It’s not until the river reaches the 17- to 18-foot depth that the red flags go up. He said the bigger issue is the saturation of the soil, which leads to wet and flooded basements.

“It’s a big concern for homeowners,” he said. “The risk of flooding is really not there, but we have had quite a bit of rain and we have folks with water in their basements, some flooding around homes.”