High Water on the Mississippi (Saint Paul, MN) 21-Apr-2023


The LovedOne: I want to see flowing water.

Me: Doesn’t the Spring rain (mixed with snow) that’s coursing down our windows constitute flowing water? {such an obviously rhetorical question}

The LovedOne: No. We need to go see REAL flowing water.

Me: Where?

The LovedOne: At Upper St. Anthony Falls on the Mississippi River between Minneapolis and St. Paul. We can see lots of REAL flowing water from the Stone Arch Bridge.

Me: You mean stand out under the overcast in rain and snow and a mist-filled breeze being whipped-up and blown all over us by the roaring waters below?

The LovedOne: Of course, silly. that’s what makes Spring in Minnesota so extra special. 😊

And thus we came to find ourselves on the Stone Arch Bridge – along with a surprising number of other Minnesotans – enjoying 🀨 a view of the raging waters upstream, downstream, and below. And, by almost any definition, they were certainly raging. They had almost reached major flood stage and were forecast to well exceed that during the week ahead.

Today’s hydrograph

Today’s flow over the Falls was 91,500 cfs (2,590 m3/s), on its way to 106,000 cfs (3,000 m3/s) by next week. In terms of weight, approximately 10 million tons of water are flowing over the Falls every hour. Visualizing these numbers as 10 medium-sized oil tankers going over the Falls hourly helped me grasp the immense power this river is currently exerting.

A rare opening of the Tainter gate at Upper St. Anthony Falls lock to help lessen flooding upstream
Upper St. Anthony Falls, Minneapolis, Minnesota
Upper St. Anthony Falls with the lock on the left
Upper St. Anthony Falls, Minneapolis, Minnesota
The Falls today
Upper St. Anthony Falls, Minneapolis, Minnesota
The Falls in February 2022
Upper St. Anthony Falls, Minneapolis, Minnesota
A brief sighting of blue sky above the falls
Upper St. Anthony Falls, Minneapolis, Minnesota
And on downstream to the Gulf of Mexico

After standing out on the bridge for a good while – building character as they say – and then going back out to get yet more photos – we (or at least I) felt we (or at least I) deserved a hot lunch.

And thus we found ourselves snug and warm and enjoying an Argentinian-style pizza at Boludo’s downtown Minneapolis location. And it was extra good! πŸ•πŸ˜‹ I was considering calculating how many pizza equivalents go over the Falls every hour – but decided to just eat another slice instead. 😁


6 thoughts on “High Water on the Mississippi (Saint Paul, MN) 21-Apr-2023

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  1. Thanks! You should go see the Stone Arch Bridge. It’s an important piece of Minnesota’s railroad history. I’d wait until the visitor center opens (May – Sept) as that would fill-out a visit to the bridge.


  2. Yes, the Stone Arch Bridge is possibly the best view of what was the only natural major waterfall on the Mississippi River. In 1880, the central section of the falls was reinforced with wood (later, in the1950s, with concrete) to keep the falls from eroding upstream. The river roaring over this concrete apron is what we saw today. Let’s just say that my enthusiasm for standing out in the cold to watch this falling water was considerably enhanced by the promise of hot pizza afterward. πŸ˜πŸ˜‹πŸ•

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  3. Looks like the Stone Arch Bridge delivered on seeing flowing water! Going for a hot lunch afterwards sounds like a nice treat after spending time outdoors.


  4. We just got our first blast of summer today. It was 86 today and over 70 yesterday, after weeks of highs in the 60’s. It is still in the lower 40’s in the morning though.


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