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Scientific Investigations Report 2012–5283

Prepared in cooperation with the Federal Emergency Management Agency

Floods of June 2012 in Northeastern Minnesota

By Christiana R. Czuba, James D. Fallon, and Erich W. Kessler

Thumbnail of and link to report PDF (15.2 MB)Abstract

During June 19–20, 2012, heavy rainfall, as much as 10 inches locally reported, caused severe flooding across northeastern Minnesota. The floods were exacerbated by wet antecedent conditions from a relatively rainy spring, with May 2012 as one of the wettest Mays on record in Duluth. The June 19–20, 2012, rainfall event set new records in Duluth, including greatest 2-day precipitation with 7.25 inches of rain. The heavy rains fell on three major watersheds: the Mississippi Headwaters; the St. Croix, which drains to the Mississippi River; and Western Lake Superior, which includes the St. Louis River and other tributaries to Lake Superior. Widespread flash and river flooding that resulted from the heavy rainfall caused evacuations of residents, and damages to residences, businesses, and infrastructure. In all, nine counties in northeastern Minnesota were declared Federal disaster areas as a result of the flooding.

Peak-of-record streamflows were recorded at 13 U.S. Geological Survey streamgages as a result of the heavy rainfall. Flood-peak gage heights, peak streamflows, and annual exceedance probabilities were tabulated for 35 U.S. Geological Survey streamgages. Flood-peak streamflows in June 2012 had annual exceedance probabilities estimated to be less than 0.002 (0.2 percent; recurrence interval greater than 500 years) for five streamgages, and between 0.002 and 0.01 (1 percent; recurrence interval greater than 100 years) for four streamgages. High-water marks were identified and tabulated for the most severely affected communities of Barnum (Moose Horn River), Carlton (Otter Creek), Duluth Heights neighborhood of Duluth (Miller Creek), Fond du Lac neighborhood of Duluth (St. Louis River), Moose Lake (Moose Horn River and Moosehead Lake), and Thomson (Thomson Reservoir outflow near the St. Louis River). Flood-peak inundation maps and water-surface profiles were produced for these six severely affected communities. The inundation maps were constructed in a geographic information system by combining high-water-mark data with high-resolution digital elevation model data. The flood maps and profiles show the extent and depth of flooding through the communities and can be used for flood response and recovery efforts by local, county, State, and Federal agencies.

First posted December 28, 2012

For additional information contact:
Director, Minnesota Water Science Center
U.S. Geological Survey
2280 Woodale Drive
Mounds View, Minnesota 55112

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Suggested citation:

Czuba, C.R., Fallon, J.D., and Kessler, E.W., 2012, Floods of June 2012 in northeastern Minnesota: U.S. Geological Survey Scientific Investigations Report 2012–5283, 42 p. with 3 app.






Floods of June 2012 in Northeastern Minnesota

Description of Flood Damages and Effects


References Cited


Appendix 1. High-Water-Mark Descriptions

Appendix 2. Flood-Peak Inundation Maps

Appendix 3. Flood-Peak Water-Surface Profiles

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