Janesville46.6°

Wet conditions might cause spring flooding

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Ted Sullivan
February 27, 2010
— Minor spring flooding is likely along the Rock River this spring, and heavy rain could lead to major flooding, a National Weather Service meteorologist said Friday.

“It doesn’t mean it’s going to happen. Preferably, we’d rather be starting out on the dry side, but we’re not that lucky,” meteorologist Rusty Kapela said. “We have wet conditions both in the soil and on top of the soil.”


The Rock River at Afton has an 80 percent chance of reaching minor flood stage of 9 feet, Kapela said. It has an 18 percent chance of reaching the major flood level of 12.2 feet.


At Newville, the river has a 13 percent chance of reaching minor flood stage of 10 feet, but the river is not predicted to reach higher stages, he said.


“Much of the Rock River can expect some lowland flooding,” Kapela said.


The Rock River basin is having a wet year, he said.


Heavy rain before the snow melts and before the ground thaws could lead to serious flooding, Kapela said.


The depth of frost in the ground varies from 12 to 20 inches, Kapela said. Snow cover ranges from 5 to 12 inches.


The snow’s water equivalent ranges from 1.5 inches to 3.5 inches, he said.


“If we could magically melt that water immediately, that’s how much water would be on top of the frozen ground,” Kapela said.


The stream flow has been running above normal, he said, and the water level is above average.


In the summer of 2008, a 500-year flood swamped the Newville area. The Rock River was over its banks in downtown Janesville, where carp swam down Main Street. The flood damaged many homes beyond repair.


The river went over its banks again in March 2009. South River Road south of Janesville was closed, but it reopened a few days later.



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