Janesville55°

Rains raising the Rock

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Catherine W. Idzerda
March 9, 2009
— You know it’s going to be a good week when the National Weather Service has issued a warning, watch and a "hazardous weather outlook" by Monday morning.

A rainy weekend and a rainy forecast have prompted the weather service to issue flood warnings for the Sugar River at Brodhead and the Rock River at Afton.


Janesville received 1.60 inches of the rain that fell across the southern half of the state.


That rain, combined with the usual spring snow melt, means river levels are rising


The Rock River at Afton was at 9.2 feet at 4:15 a.m. today. Flood stage is 9 feet.


"The Rock River typically has a fairly slow rise and fall," explained Chris Kuhlman, meteorologist from the National Weather Service in Sullivan. "We expect the river to crest at about 10 feet late in the week."


The river basin—the small streams and rivers that drain into the river—is extremely large and it takes a while for all that water to make its way downstream.


At 10 feet, floodwaters will fill in lowlands and farm fields in the area.


At 10.4 feet, floodwaters start to cover low spots on South River Road on the South side of Janesville.


At 4:15 a.m. today, the Sugar River gauge in Brodhead read 6.3 feet. Flood stage is 5 feet, and minor flooding already has occurred. The river is expected to continue rising and reach 6.5 feet by Tuesday morning.


At 6.5 feet, widespread flooding of lowland and farmland occurs and Sugar River Park floods.


More rain is in the forecast for tonight with between one-quarter inch and one-half inch of additional rain possible. Rain will continue off and on throughout Tuesday and early Wednesday morning, with one-tenth inch possible. However, brief thundershowers could mean higher amounts in areas, so keep your umbrellas with you at all times.


For south central Wisconsin residents who weathered last year's floods, the specter of rising waters might make them nervous.


Kuhlman said conditions are not the same as last spring.


"Last year, we had more snow, and it stuck around," Kuhlman said. “This year, we won’t have that snow melt."


When the rain started falling in earnest last spring, a significant amount of snow still was on the ground. This year, most of the snow is gone.


Now for the high wind watch:


Starting Tuesday evening, a cold front will move through the area, bringing west winds of 30 mph to 40 mph with gusts up to 60 mph.


Winds at these speeds can cause power outages and minor damage to property. High profile vehicles such as trucks, campers and even some SUVs can be affected.


And let's not forget that "hazardous weather outlook."


Fog was expected throughout southern Wisconsin today, but will be worst north of Madison. Visibility will drop to below a half mile in places.



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