Dan Oachs

Dan Oachs

Alumnus Dan Oachs (class of 1997) is a member of the Core Services team in the Gustavus Technology Services department. When he’s not at work, he’s often bicycling, or caring for the bike trails at the Treaty Site History Center. He’s been thinking a lot about climate change, as a result of his work in that park, which lies right on the Minnesota River. Here’s his story:

As someone who has lived in St. Peter and has kept an eye on the Minnesota River that passes through town nearly my entire life, I have witnessed a very visible and measurable change in the river’s behavior during that time. In my childhood, the Minnesota River followed a very predictable pattern. As the snow melted in the spring, the river would flood. The height and duration of that flood was variable, depending on how much snow we got over the winter and how quickly it melted. Then, in 1993, for the first time in my lifetime we had a major flood in the summer months due to rain. We had another summer flood in 2001, then one in September in 2010. Since 2014, a flood has covered the trails in Traverse des Sioux nearly every summer. Last summer (2018). the trails were under water almost the entire summer.

The Minnesota River has drastically changed behavior in recent history, with more and more floods happening year round, and not just during the spring snow melt.

As part of my interest in monitoring the Minnesota river, I have been making my own copy of river heights as measured by the national weather service and then creating graphs. I have graphs of the past 7 days, 30 days, and 6 years here: http://oachs.it.gac.edu/river/.

I also have a graph where the past 6 years of data are laid on top of each other to see where the summer floods happen: http://oachs.it.gac.edu/river/year.php Any time the river is over the 740 foot mark, parts of the trails are under water.

As someone who both enjoys using the trails along the river and builds/maintains them, this change in behavior of the MN river has had a large impact on me personally.