Skip Links

USGS - science for a changing world

Scientific Investigations Report 2011–5045

Prepared in cooperation with the Federal Emergency Management Agency and the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources, Division of Ecological and Water Resources

Floods of September 2010 in Southern Minnesota

By Christopher A. Ellison, Chris A. Sanocki, David L. Lorenz, Gregory B. Mitton, and Gregory A. Kruse

Thumbnail of and link to report PDF (8.4 MB)


During September 22–24, 2010, heavy rainfall ranging from 3 inches to more than 10 inches caused severe flooding across southern Minnesota. The floods were exacerbated by wet antecedent conditions, where summer rainfall totals were as high as 20 inches, exceeding the historical average by more than 4 inches. Widespread flooding that occurred as a result of the heavy rainfall caused evacuations of hundreds of residents, and damages in excess of 64 million dollars to residences, businesses, and infrastructure. In all, 21 counties in southern Minnesota were declared Federal disaster areas.

Peak-of-record streamflows were recorded at nine U.S. Geological Survey and three Minnesota Department of Natural Resources streamgages as a result of the heavy rainfall. Flood-peak gage heights, peak streamflows, and annual exceedance probabilities were tabulated for 27 U.S. Geological Survey and 5 Minnesota Department of Natural Resources streamgages and 5 ungaged sites. Flood-peak streamflows in 2010 had annual exceedance probabilities estimated to be less than 0.2 percent (recurrence interval greater than 500 years) at 7 streamgages and less than 1 percent (recurrence interval greater than 100 years) at 5 streamgages and 4 ungaged sites. High-water marks were identified and tabulated for the most severely affected communities of Faribault along the Cannon and Straight Rivers, Owatonna along the Straight River and Maple Creek, Pine Island along the North Branch and Middle Fork Zumbro River, and Zumbro Falls along the Zumbro River. The nearby communities of Hammond, Henderson, Millville, Oronoco, Pipestone, and Rapidan also received extensive flooding and damage but were not surveyed for high-water marks. Flood-peak inundation maps and water-surface profiles for the four most severely affected communities were constructed in a geographic information system by combining high-water-mark data with the highest resolution digital elevation model data available. The flood maps and profiles show the extent and height of flooding through the communities and can be used for flood response and recovery efforts by local, county, State, and Federal agencies.

First posted April 8, 2011

  • Appendix 2 - Flood-inundation maps for selected communities, 11"x 17" print format

For additional information contact:
Director, USGS Minnesota Water Science Center
2280 Woodale Drive
Mounds View, Minnesota 55112
(763) 783–3100

Part or all of this report is presented in Portable Document Format (PDF); the latest version of Adobe Reader or similar software is required to view it. Download the latest version of Adobe Reader, free of charge.

Suggested citation:

Ellison, C.A., Sanocki, C.A., Lorenz, D.L., Mitton, G.B., and Kruse, G.A., 2011, Floods of September 2010 in Southern Minnesota: U.S. Geological Survey Scientific Investigations Report 2011–5045, 37 p., 3 app.






Floods of September 2010 in Southern Minnesota

Description of Flood Damages and Effects


References Cited


Appendix 1. High-Water-Mark Descriptions in the Communities of Faribault, Owatonna, Pine Island, and Zumbro Falls, Floods of September 2010, Minnesota

Appendix 2. Flood-Peak Inundation Maps for Selected Communities, Floods of September 2010, Minnesota

Appendix 3. Flood-Peak Water-Surface Profiles for Selected Sites, Floods of September 2010, Minnesota

Accessibility FOIA Privacy Policies and Notices

Take Pride in America logo logo U.S. Department of the Interior | U.S. Geological Survey
Page Contact Information: GS Pubs Web Contact
Page Last Modified: Thursday, 10-Jan-2013 20:05:08 EST