Every once in a while, there are massive piles of snow in the Great North Woods that melt quickly enough to raise the river levels downstream. Watersheds from the Dakotas, through Minnesota to northern Wisconsin all send their water through La Crosse and we get a big flood every 10-20 years. This year was one of those years.
The “normal” river level in La Crosse is 6 feet. (“Zero” is 626 feet above sea level.) Flood stage is at 12 feet, and the highest level recorded was just under 19 feet in 1965. Yesterday the gauge nudged 16 feet, the third-highest level in history (highest since 2001).
A popular photo subject at the riverside is the sculpture called “A Simpler Time”, portraying a boy, girl and a dog waving to river boats. I’m including an image of that artwork from dryer times to illustrate the “normal” level of the river.