Storms bring needed rain, unneeded damage
JANESVILLE Strong storms that moved through southern Wisconsin on Wednesday night brought hail, lightning strikes and rain—but not enough to end the drought.
"This was a nice rain, but it definitely wasn't a drought buster," said Morgan Brooks, meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Sullivan.
An unofficial measurement in downtown Janesville showed 0.45 inches of rain at 10:30 p.m. Official weather readings for the city taken daily at the wastewater treatment plant are not available until the next day.
"We're still inches below the normal amount of precipitation," Brooks said. "It's a step in the right direction. We're going to need several events like that."
A lingering front could bring rain again sometime this morning through early afternoon. Otherwise, Brooks said, the next best chance for rain will be the middle of next week.
While the storms brought needed rain, they also brought damage.
The National Weather Service received a report of 1-inch hail in Evansville and a report of significant hail damage—large holes punched in the roof of a farmhouse—4 miles north of Orfordville.
The Rock County Communications Center received nearly 50 calls for hazardous conditions such as damaged power lines and fallen trees, supervisor Brian Becker said.
Lightning also struck one home in Milton and one home in Clinton, he said, but fire departments cleared those scenes "pretty quickly."
At least 2,400 Alliant Energy customers in the southwest part of the state, which includes Rock County, lost power at the height of the storm, according to the company's website. By 10:30 p.m., about 1,150 customers remained without power in the region.
Janesville firefighters were called just before 5 p.m. to 5004 E. Avalon Road, where lightning struck the top of a tree and started it on fire, Fire Department Shift Commander Bill Ruchti said.
The tree was along the edge of a pasture, Ruchti said. The property owner told firefighters lightning had struck it two other times.
The Janesville Police Department said it received no reports of storm damage.
Despite the rain, the heat still caused trouble.
Southbound traffic on Interstate 90/39 south of Janesville was delayed Wednesday night after a 1-foot-high by 8-feet-wide buckle formed in the pavement, according to the Wisconsin State Patrol. Both eastbound lanes were closed for at least a couple hours. Traffic was routed onto the right shoulder near the on ramp from Shopiere Road.
Workers had started to repair the roadway and the right lane was reopened by 9 p.m., the Wisconsin State Patrol reported.