IMAGE: Derek Montgomery for MPR
That is not the result of an earthquake. Instead, this is what happens when a city receives as much as 10 inches of rain in three days. Over the last two days, flash flooding ripped apart Duluth—and other cities in Northeast Minnesota/Northwest Wisconsin. The damage in Duluth alone is expected to be in the millions. There will be street repairs, sewer line replacements, damage to private homes and businesses. The photos are devastating. Luckily, it seems that nobody died, but my heart goes out to everyone dealing with the aftermath of these storms.
At Minnesota Public Radio's Updraft blog, Paul Huttner explains how Duluth, a city built on a hillside and not near any big rivers, can end up with flooding this intense.
A cold front approached Minnesota from the High Plains on Sunday, June 17th and this front set off numerous thunderstorms through the evening. Duluth NWS received nearly an inch of rain (0.71"). The rains that fell on Sunday had inundated the soil, and created more saturated conditions than normal, which primed the Duluth area for runoff in the extreme rain event that we received
In pre-response to the inevitable climate change discussion, let me just remind you of meteorologist Paul Douglas' brilliant analogy:
You can't point to any one weather extreme and say "that's climate change". But a warmer atmosphere loads the dice, increasing the potential for historic spikes in temperature and more frequent and bizarre weather extremes. You can't prove that any one of Barry Bond's 762 home runs was sparked by (alleged) steroid use. But it did increase his "base state," raising the overall odds of hitting a home run.
See more photos from Duluth, including the soon-to-be-classic shot of an escaped zoo seal wandering the streets of downtown.