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'Keeping our head above water': Monday rains drop more than 4 inches in some areas

Erica Dischino / Tribune Carmen Halvorson walks into Cash Wise Foods with an umbrella that inverted during the rainstorm Monday afternoon in Willmar.1 / 4
Erica Dischino / Tribune Water pools along 45th Avenue Southwest Monday in Willmar. 2 / 4
Erica Dischino / Tribune The side of the road at 45th Avenue Southwest in Willmar floods with water during Monday afternoon's rainstorm. 3 / 4
Erica Dischino / Tribune A rainstorm left streets and gutters in Willmar flooded with water Monday afternoon.4 / 4

WILLMAR — Heavy rains fell with car-wash force across west central Minnesota Monday, dumping 3 to 4 inches in some areas.

The day-long rain caused storm water drains to back-up on city streets and filled farm fields with ponds.

Outdoor activities, like community recreation classes were cancelled and the Dorothy Olson Aquatic Center in Willmar closed during what would've been its first full day of the 2018 season.

"We're trying to keep our head above water," said John Douville, Cosmos city administrator.

By 4 p.m. the unofficial rainfall tally was about 4½ inches in Cosmos, creating a situation with backed up stormwater, and more rain was on the way.

"We're concerned about this next wave and if we're going to be able to stay ahead of it," Douville said. "I want to give a shout-out to our two public works employees (Aaron Lang and Tyler Anderson) who will be up most of the night staying ahead of it."

Douville said there was only about 45 minutes during the day when it wasn't raining. "It was a big system and pretty solid," he said.

Alexandra Keclik, a forecaster with the National Weather Service in Chanhassen, said Monday's rainfall, combined with rain that's fallen in some areas during the last week, resulted in localized flooding and ponding.

"That's been the main concern for us," Keclik said.

Winds of 50 to 60 mph were also reported in some parts of west central Minnesota.

Law enforcement took reports of downed trees throughout the region and power was out for a time in Benson.

Although some farm fields had been in need of moisture, getting so much rain in one day isn't necessarily a good thing for crops, said Tom Anderson, director of the Swift County Farm Service Agency in Benson.

"You never need 4 inches at one time. It sounds like there's a lot of standing water," Anderson said. "We're thankful we weren't saturated before going into this."

The region should dry out during the next couple of days with sunny skies and temperatures in the 70s Tuesday and Wednesday, but Keclik said the chance of thunderstorms returns again Wednesday night.

And then the heat and humidity will hit west central Minnesota this weekend with another chance of thunderstorms and a threat for heavy rain and flooding, according to the weather service.

Carolyn Lange

A reporter for 35 years, Carolyn Lange covers regional news with the West Central Tribune.

(320) 894-9750
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