Minnesota Prairie Roots

Writing and photography by Audrey Kletscher Helbling

On the road: A look at Redwood County flooding & snow pack March 24, 2019

Westbound just outside of Redwood Falls along Minnesota State Highway 19 late Saturday morning.


SNOW LAYERS farm fields.


Along Minnesota State Highway 19 between Redwood Falls and the Belview corner.


Massive snow piles still mark farm sites, this one along Minnesota State Highway 19 near the Belview corner.


A scene along Minnesota State Highway 19 near the Belview corner appears more winter-like than spring.


In the shade of yards and groves and northern hillsides, snow banks remain, reminders of a long Minnesota winter not yet over.


In many spots along Minnesota State Highway 19 between Redwood Falls and the Belview corner, snow pushed off the highway (some up to 100 feet from the roadway) remains.


Snow shoved from a once-drifted Minnesota State Highway 19 appears like wind-sculpted waves frozen in place just west of Redwood Falls.


A sign on the west edge of Redwood Falls along Minnesota State Highway 19 advises motorists to check the Minnesota Department of Transportation website for road closures.


In Redwood, the Redwood River appears mostly iced-over.


Flooding along Minnesota State Highway 19 between Redwood Falls and the Delhi corner.


But outside of town, snow melt floods fields, settles in low-lying areas. Frozen tile and frozen ground allow no outlet for all that water. Farm sites seem temporary lakeside properties.


A drainage ditch near the intersection of Brown County Road 29 and Minnesota State Highway 67 southeast of Morgan.


Ditches brim with water.


East of Courtland along U.S. Highway 14, fields are mostly bare of snow.


Between Morgan and Gilfillan, snow cover and flooding increase.


Southeast of Redwood Falls.


A survey of the countryside while driving from Faribault to Belview and back Saturday presents a perspective on the flooding and potential flooding in southern Minnesota. Not until Randy and I drove northwest out of Morgan did we begin to really notice the difference. Our observations of significant remaining snow pack and already ponding water visually confirms the reason for a flood warning in my native Redwood County.


Flooded farm field near Delhi.


Just east of Belview.


East of Delhi, a closure on the Scenic Byway road.


There’s a lot of snow yet to melt, especially west of Redwood Falls. That water must go somewhere since it can’t soak into the frozen soil. And that somewhere is likely into the Redwood River, which feeds into the Minnesota River, which feeds into the Mississippi River. What happens in rural southwestern Minnesota will eventually affect the Twin Cities metro.


Near Delhi.


Temps and precipitation will factor into the flooding equation, too, as winter transitions into spring. I will tell you that Redwood County, on Saturday, seemed still stuck in the final days of winter.

© Copyright 2019 Audrey Kletscher Helbling


21 Responses to “On the road: A look at Redwood County flooding & snow pack”

  1. Dan Traun Says:

    It is a sloppy mess out there; cannot wait for things to dry out.

  2. Audrey- this is a great update and compared to North of the cities you guys are slammed. I flew in on Friday and I could see tons of water standing in fields. The warm temps yesterday started streams here in Carlton County to run high but they didn’t get nearly the snow that you guys did. Sadly my kayak is staying in storage, fishing gear came out but unless we have 3 more weeks of temps like yesterday I am thinking trout season in Whitewater State Park maybe will be cancelled. I should have brought tulips…

    • Tulips would have been great.

      Don’t give up on trout fishing. Lots can change in three weeks. And remember that these photos are from southWESTERN, not southEASTERN Minnesota. Around here, fields are mostly clear of snow and the melt seems more advanced. That said, I can’t speak to the Whitewater area.

      Welcome home! I hope you have an enjoyable visit.

  3. Brenda Says:

    So much HAS changed in the past couple weeks! I am so glad and my back is too! It was so difficult trying to drive on gravel roads that were more like miles long muddy puddles. Sometimes all the faster I could drive was 20-25 mph, and that in 4 wheel drive while trying to keep it on the road. Thankfully our area has lost most of the snow and those gravel roads have mostly dried enough to grade. I recognized the farm photo from east of Courtland and just north of our church! My niece from the New Richland area was home to Courtland this weekend and said they have more snow than here. Our frost must be out around our house as the sump pump has started running more regularly the last couple days. All we have left is the bigger piles of snow in our yard. Did you drive by on your way west?

    • We definitely noticed lots less snow in your area and way more in Redwood County.

      I’m glad that gravel roads are drying. I can only imagine the challenges of driving your rural mail route.

      We now take I-35 south to Owatonna and get on US Highway 14 to New Ulm, then take CR 29 and Hwy 67 to Morgan and then Redwood Falls before picking up Hwy 19.

      In the past, before the four-lane opened between Owatonna and Waseca, we drove through towns like Le Center and St. Peter and would have taken the road past your place into Nicollet. We’re usually just doing a day trip, so the quicker the drive, the better.

      • Brenda Says:

        I had thought maybe you would head north to Hwy 19 right away being you end up on it but on 4 lanes you don’t have to slow down for all the little towns in between. If they finally fund 4 lanes from Nicollet to New Ulm your trip will be even faster! Of course first there’d be detours!! Hwy 99 has aweful potholes, so just as well you don’t drive it.

      • Faster is the reason we take the route we do to Belview. It’s a day trip, so we spend 5 hours in a vehicle round trip.

        The bridge is closed at St. Peter right now. That was the route we always followed in the past, right by your place, until the Highway 14 expansion. I can’t wait until 14 is a four-lane between Nicollet and New Ulm. That can’t happen soon enough. The condition of the road is really deteriorating. But most of all, so much traffic on a narrow roadway.

  4. […] On The Road: A Look At Redwood County Flooding & Snow Pack (Minnesota Prairie […]

  5. The snow is enough and can cause damage and then to have flooding on top of it is not good. Ready for the sun to come out and just dry it up. Be Safe and Take Care 🙂

  6. Missy's Crafty Mess Says:

    Still a ton of snow cover with a sloppy mess yet to come. It’s been a winter to remember

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