Heavy rains damage roads in northwest Wisconsin

County officials say crews are working to repair the damage

A driver tries to go through a flooded roadway
A driver works to make it through a flooded roadway in Bayfield County. (Photo Courtesy of the Bayfield County Sheriff’s Office)

Road repairs are still underway in Bayfield County in northern Wisconsin after a storm dumped several inches of rain on the region, damaging highways and causing flash flooding.

Over the last three days, the northern tip of Bayfield County, near Lake Superior and the Apostle Islands, had an estimated three to four inches of heavy rainfall, according to Nathan Lynum, a meteorologist from the National Weather Service’s Duluth office. The heaviest ran fell Tuesday night into Wednesday morning.

Lynum said some rivers in the area rose by around three to six feet, and contributed to flash flooding. The National Weather Service issued a flash flood warning Tuesday night and into Wednesday morning for Douglas, Bayfield and Ashland counties.

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The weather service in Duluth has issued a flood warning Thursday for much of northern Minnesota, but a flood warning on the North Shore of Lake Superior has been canceled, Lynum said.

The heavy rains led to road closures in northern Bayfield County along the south shore of Lake Superior Wednesday. A culvert collapse closed State Highway 13, about a mile from Cornucopia.

A portion of a roadway in Bayfield County collapsed after heavy rains battered the area and caused flooding. Photo courtesy of the Bayfield County Sheriff’s Office

In an update issued at 4 p.m. Wednesday, the county said new culverts would be installed at Highway 13 west of Cornucopia that evening. The county planned to reopen the highway to traffic Wednesday night, and has paving scheduled for next week.

The county said it would be working through the weekend to repair a culvert on Highway 13 east of Meyers Beach. Officials hoped to have the roadway open to traffic by Monday.

Portions of northwest Wisconsin, including Bayfield County, are experiencing light showers Thursday, but they are expected to stop by the evening, Lynum said.

“It’s just going to be a pretty cloudy, mild day with temperatures in the upper 60s and about a 10th or less than that of an inch of rain is expected,” he said.

More rain is expected in Bayfield County this weekend.

Editor’s note: WPR’s John Davis contributed to this story.