Maps help officials react to flooding

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Gazette staff and Associated Press
Saturday, March 21, 2009
— Rock County officials know how flooding will impact neighborhoods and roads after collecting data from last year's event and turning it into maps.

The maps will tell the sheriff's office which homes need to be evacuated or which roads need to be closed when floodwaters reach certain levels, Sheriff's Cmdr. Troy Knudson said.

"Being able to predict what is going to be affected ahead of time will improve our ability to respond effectively and efficiently, and use the resources we have, which are limited, to our best possible advantage," he said.

Conditions are ripe for significant flooding in southern Wisconsin again this spring, a meteorologist said Tuesday.

Steve Brueske, meteorologist in charge of the National Weather Service's Sullivan office, told reporters at a state Capitol press conference that the region's soil can't hold any more moisture. The ground is saturated from last spring's floods and December's heavy snowfall, he said.

What's more, a 20-layer of frost formed under much of the region's soil over the winter and hasn't melted, Brueske said. Heavy rain would seep through the wet soil, hit the frost and run off, he said.

The flood warning continues for the Rock River at Afton. The river was at 10.1 feet Friday afternoon. Flood stage is 9 feet.

But the river is expected to drop to 9.4 feet in the next week, according to the National Weather Service.

At 10.4 feet, the river reaches a 5-year flood stage and water begins to affect the low spots on South River Road on the south side of Janesville.

The flood warning also continues for the Rock River at Newville. The river was at 10.7 feet Friday afternoon. Flood stage is 10 feet. However, the river is expected to drop to 9.7 feet in the next week.

If another flood occurs, officials will know what to expect, thanks to its data and maps from last year, said Phil Boutwell, assistant to the county administrator.

For example, at 10.8 feet, water enters the backyards of Mallwood Subdivision in Newville. That information will be saved in case the next big flood doesn't happen for years.

"We thought that would be useful in the event the water rises again, we'll have some idea where the action is," Boutwell said.

The National Weather Service has been accurate with their water-level predictions, Boutwell said. Officials can use the predictions to warn residents 24 hours in advance if their homes are in danger.

The Janesville forecast includes a mostly cloudy day today, with a chance of showers or thunderstorms Sunday, Monday and Tuesday.

Three inches to 4 inches of rain over three or four days would cause significant flooding, Brueske said.

The Rock and Crawfish rivers already are flooding into fields, he said. Meteorologists think the incoming storm system could make an impact, he said.

"Just that one storm will put us right on the edge," he said.

Last updated: 9:50 am Thursday, December 13, 2012

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