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Heavy Rain Expected In Parts Of Southern Wisconsin

Officials: Flooding Has Caused Public Damage At $44M

lake, flooding, floods, Madison, 2018
Mark Riechers/WPR

Flooding in southern Wisconsin might get worse before it gets better because of heavy rain expected in parts of the state during the Labor Day weekend.

The National Weather Service predicts up to 1 to 2 inches in the Madison area through Sunday.

The weather service’s Milwaukee office said that strong thunderstorms are possible Sunday. Heavy rainfall along with gusty winds, hail and lightning will be possible.

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Wisconsin Emergency Management officials said Friday that flash flood watches are in effect for several counties in east-central and northwestern Wisconsin.

Rounds of thunderstorms have pummeled southern Wisconsin over the last two weeks, dumping as much as 14 inches of rain in some spots and causing widespread flooding. At least 16 tornadoes touched down in the state on Tuesday. Any additional rainfall would exacerbate the region’s damaging floods that started with storms on Aug. 20.

Wisconsin Emergency Management spokesman Andrew Beckett said on Friday that more rain could exacerbate flooding along the already swollen Baraboo and Kickapoo rivers.

They also said that water levels on the Baraboo, Kickapoo and Fox rivers remain above flood stage. Flooding has been reported along the Kickapoo River at Gays Mills, La Farge, Steuben, Viola and Readstown. Flooding near the Baraboo River was reported at Reedsburg, La Valle, Rock Springs and Baraboo. Officials said that while the Kickapoo River crested and has started to drop, the Baraboo River will crest later this weekend.

They said water levels “are rising on the Fox River at Princeton, which is expected to pass flood stage in the coming days. Montello and surrounding areas in Marquette County are also experiencing flooding.”

The weather service said that a flood warning continues for several rivers in Wisconsin. They include:

  • Baraboo River At Reedsburg affecting Sauk County
  • Baraboo River At Rock Springs affecting Sauk County
  • Baraboo River At West Baraboo affecting Sauk County
  • Baraboo River Near Baraboo affecting Sauk County
  • Rock River At Afton affecting Rock County
  • Fox River Near Berlin affecting Green Lake County
  • Crawfish River At Milford affecting Jefferson County

The weather service said that the Baraboo River near Baraboo was at 24.2 feet at 3 p.m. on Saturday. Flood stage is 16 feet. The river will continue rising to near 24.8 feet by midnight Sunday and the river is expected to fall below flood stage by Wednesday morning. The Baraboo River at Rock Springs was at 26.3 feet by 9 a.m. on Saturday. Flood stage is at 18.5 feet. Officials said that the river will continue to fall to below flood stage by Monday afternoon.

The weather service said that Madison city officials reported on Saturday afternoon that multiple road closures persist in the vicinity of where the Yahara River cuts through the Isthmus on the city’s east side. This is because of the water being released from Lake Mendota via the Tenney Dam. Floodwaters are affecting some roads east of Blair Street, including East Johnson Street, which is closed. East Washington Avenue has a few inches of water on the outside lane, but all lanes are open.

Storms, Flooding Expected To Increase Damage Costs

Wisconsin emergency officials say storms and flooding over the last two weeks has caused at least $44 million in damage to public infrastructure.

Beckett said that number is expected to grow. He says many communities are still too busy responding to flooding to tabulate damage estimates.

Gov. Scott Walker declared a statewide emergency this week, authorizing state agencies and the Wisconsin National Guard to help local governments with recovery efforts.

Walker Continues Touring Flood Damage

Walker visited more areas of the state on Saturday that were damaged in the storms and recent flooding.

He visited La Farge and Viola in western Wisconsin. The governor tweeted that he was touring homes and small businesses.

Editor’s Note: This story has been updated multiple times with new information.