Saturday, August 25, 2007

Drying, slowly...

The predicted heavy rain on Wednesday night and Thursday stayed farther south, sparing most of southwest Wisconsin any additional flooding. The rest of southern Wisconsin wasn't so lucky, and several more counties have been declared disaster areas. The rain has moved south of the region for now, so we are slowly drying out. That will be a long process, however. The ground will remain saturated for quite some time, and any rainfall in the next two weeks or more will lead to more rapid run-off problems. This has already happened once. On Friday, up to 1.5 inches of rain fell across the northern Kickapoo River watershed in about four hours. This caused the river at La Farge to rise by more than four feet. Under normal circumstances, this amount of rain in that amount of time would cause the river to rise a few inches, if that. There simply isn't any other place for the water to go right now.

The next chance for rain is Sunday night, as warmer and more moist air begins to flow into the region. Better chances for rain will come late Monday through Tuesday night as a cold front moves across the area. Extreme rainfall totals, like those of last weekend, aren't expected, but any thunderstorms that develop in a moist atmosphere can drop an inch or two of rain in a hurry, and this could cause some renewed flooding problems. This threat will become clearer during the next couple of days.

I have heard many people say that this recent rain and flooding was reminiscent of the flood of July 1951. That idea was confirmed by the National Weather Service today, when they released a list of locations that set 24-hour rainfall records last weekend. One of those locations was La Farge, which received 6.14 inches from 8 a.m. Saturday, August 18th thru 8 a.m. Sunday, August 19th. The old record was 5.50 inches, set July 20-21, 1951.



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