Just in time for the boating season, no-wake restrictions have gone into effect on the St. Croix River.
The river's elevation has risen sharply in the past week, jumping nearly 6 feet. The current level, at 684 feet above sea level on Wednesday, is 1 foot higher than the "trigger elevation" for the no-wake rules that are measured at Stillwater, said Molly Shodeen, hydrologist for the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources.
No-wake restrictions apply from Taylors Falls south to Prescott, Wis., to prevent shoreline damage during periods of high water. The restriction will remain in place for about a week because of heavy snow falling in the northern reaches of the St. Croix's watershed, Shodeen said.
That timing should bode well for boaters, most of whom must wait for marinas to assemble docks and slips and lift larger vessels into the water once the ice clears.
Persistent cold weather and lingering ice had delayed the boating season, rendering the no-wake rules less of an issue.
"There shouldn't be much activity, but the ice has gone out and people will be anxious to get boating or fishing," Shodeen said.
Current National Weather Service forecasts show the St. Croix receding by Friday, but the outlook is revised every 24 hours to take new precipitation into account.
The St. Croix is now 3 feet below minor flood stage, which is 687 feet. Major flood stage is 689 feet. At 686 feet, the Stillwater Lift Bridge could close to ensure safety for motorists.
Typically St. Croix flooding results when rain and snow melting from the north meets a backflow from a rising Mississippi River in the south. The DNR also warned boaters to watch for floating debris when water is high.