Floods of June 2012 in northeastern Minnesota

Scientific Investigations Report 2012-5283

Prepared in cooperation with the Federal Emergency Management Agency. The Downloads Directory contains the 6 figures from Appendix 2. For more information, see the "View companion files" link above.
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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.

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Additional publication details

Publication type:
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USGS Numbered Series
Floods of June 2012 in northeastern Minnesota
Series title:
Scientific Investigations Report
Series number:
Year Published:
U.S. Geological Survey
Publisher location:
Reston, VA
Contributing office(s):
Minnesota Water Science Center
Report: vi, 42 p.; Downloads Directory
Time Range Start:
Time Range End:
United States
Aitkin;Carlton;Cass;Cook;Crow Wing;Itasca;Lake;Pine;St. Louis
Universal Transverse Mercator projection, Zone 15
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