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Warnings of "potentially catastrophic" flash flooding in 2 states

The National Weather Service office in Duluth, Minnesota was sounding the alarm late Monday about what it called "potentially catastrophic" flash flooding overnight in a wide swath of east central Minnesota and northwestern Wisconsin.

On its Facebook page, the weather service warned of an "emergency situation," saying, "Conditions are deteriorating rapidly. We are trying to get the word out from the Brainerd Lakes region, through east central Minnesota and northwest Wisconsin. We are asking for your help in getting word out to campgrounds, resorts, anyone near rivers or streams, etc. In short, if you are in and around the Brainerd Lakes area, Aitkin County, Pine County, and much of northwestern Wisconsin, we are expecting potentially catastrophic flooding.

"The Mississippi River at Aitkin is expected to see a huge surge in water overnight, and is expected to reach 17.9 feet by 7 PM. At 18 feet, water will inundate the Aitkin sewage plant," the service continued.

"We don't ask this often, but please, share this post and communicate with anyone living in those areas. Much more rain is on the way, and we have seen 6 to 8 inches of rain in spots in these areas. This is potentially a many decade flood. PLEASE SHARE! And do NOT drive across those roads overnight."

What's more, the service described "LIFE THREATENING FLASH FLOODING" that "WILL CONTINUE OVERNIGHT. Flash Flood Warnings are in effect through 6:00am Tuesday across ... almost all of northwest Wisconsin. While rain is coming to an end is east-central Minnesota, it will continue overnight in northwest Wisconsin. TRAVEL NOT ADVISED OVERNIGHT IN THESE AREAS! If you encounter flooded roadways, TURN AROUND, DON'T DROWN - the road may be washed out or your vehicle could be swept away. FLOODING IS OCCURING NOW. THIS IS A LIFE THREATENING SITUATION."

CBS Duluth affiliate KDLH-TV reported late Monday night that strong storms were dumping heavy rain and causing serious flooding across the region. "After nearly a half a foot of rain in the past 24 hours, the city of Moose Lake is bracing for ... when the runoff hits rivers and streams."

The station says the manager of the city campground estimates Moose Head Lake rose by about a foot Monday evening.

The Associated Press notes that Dan Miller, science and operations officer at NWS in Duluth, told the Brainerd Dispatch, "Flash floods at night are exceptionally dangerous because visibility is not very good."

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