Torrential rain led to flooding in parts of southern Minnesota on Saturday evening, and may have triggered a mudslide that closed a state highway early Sunday.
The Minnesota Department of Transportation reported at about 5:30 a.m. Sunday that State Highway 68 is closed south of Courtland due to a “sizeable mudslide” across the driving lanes.
Photos provided by MnDOT and the Brown County Sheriff’s Office showed one car caught in the mud, and another damaged vehicle nearby. It was not immediately clear if there were any injuries in the slide that happened near the Brown-Blue Earth county line. “Officials are onsite clearing the debris, and are monitoring the slide area to make sure that no more debris will slide onto the roadway,” MnDOT reported early Sunday. The highway reopened around 10 a.m.
“We’ve had some kinda crazy rainfalls the last couple of years where we’ve seen these longer duration rains or these downpour type style of rains where once that water starts coming over the slope, it just seems to keep taking more material,” said Chase Fester, assistant maintenance manager for MnDOT District 7.
MnDOT is continuing efforts to prevent mudslides, like adding plants and reinforcing the slope. Fester said these measures have helped, but they don’t always prevent slides.
The latest closure comes as Highway 68 was carrying more traffic than usual as the designated long-term construction detour for U.S. Highway 14 between Mankato and New Ulm.