The summer that started with a lot of rain looks to be ending the same way: swampy.
A brief but heavy storm doused the Twin Cities with up to 3 inches of rain early Sunday morning, pushing 2019 into second place among the wettest years so far.
The deluge brought the total precipitation through Aug. 18 to 29.64 inches at the Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport, second only to the 31.75 inches that fell in 1892.
“We started off with a really wet year and kind of held on to it,” Brent Hewett, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service, said Sunday. “It’s exhausting.”
Besides flooding, the heavy rains have taken a toll on Twin Cities lakes and beaches this summer. The water flushes bacteria and animal waste from streets, sidewalks and yards into storm sewers, many of which empty into lakes.
Robin Smothers, a spokeswoman for the Minneapolis Park Board, said it was not immediately known if this storm would cause more problems for the urban lakes. The bodies of water are tested Monday morning at 7 a.m.
Beaches stay closed
Smothers said Sunday that two out of three beaches at Bde Maka Ska/Lake Calhoun remain closed because of excessive levels of E. coli bacteria, as is a Lake Hiawatha beach. A beach at Wirth Lake was closed last week but has been reopened.
This summer has brought the most beach closures at one time since the Park Board began testing for E. coli bacteria in 2003, said Debra Pilger, its director of environmental management. In her 25-year history with the Park Board, she said this is the first instance of beaches being closed due to illness reports rather than simply because of test results.
The storms that rumbled through overnight were most severe in the southern and southwestern parts of the state, with peak wind speeds hitting 59 miles per hour near Dovray, which is about 40 miles north of Worthington.
Roseville, Chaska and North St. Paul all got about 3 inches of rain, according to volunteers.
Some brief urban flooding was reported, said NWS meteorologist Tyler Hasenstein.
In the metro area, more serious flooding didn’t occur because “we’ve been fairly dry for a period now” so the ground quickly absorbed the water and the rain missed the areas most vulnerable to flooding, Hasenstein said.
Two men in west-central Minnesota had to swim for shore when strong winds overturned their sailboat early Sunday morning on Big Kandiyohi Lake. The men were thrown from the anchored boat and into the water; both were uninjured.
Time will tell if rainfall records are set this year. The wettest year was 2016, with 40.3 inches of precipitation.
The four remaining months in 2019 have “a decent chance” of being wetter than average, Hasenstein said.
All the rain has an upside for the parks, Smothers said: “Our gardens are beautiful.”