A year ago this month, water engulfed street signs and stranded some subdivisions after a bout of unseasonable rain caused flooding throughout Rock County.
Floodwaters spilled into basements on Beloit Avenue. A woman fled her home on Bingham Avenue after her sump pump stopped working.
With rain in the forecast this weekend, flooding fears could come bubbling up again.
But the National Weather Service says only a quarter-inch of rain is expected Sunday night into Monday—nowhere near the rainfall that drenched the area last February.
“There’s so much snow out there that it’s going to kind of act as a sponge,” said Ben Miller, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service office in Sullivan. “Not that there won’t be any runoff, because obviously it’s going to be warm. ... But it’s a pretty dry snowpack.”
Miller said any flooding this weekend likely will be caused by snow blocking storm drains or ice jams in the Rock River. It’s unlikely runoff will cause significant flooding, he said.
Still, Rock County and Janesville officials are bracing for the rain.
Duane Jorgenson, Rock County’s director of public works, said the county will have at least 80 high-water signs on hand to place on flooded roads—about double the number of signs it had last February.
“Last year, we didn’t have a good mechanism for notifying and putting things out,” Jorgenson said. “I don’t think we’re going to see anywhere near the magnitude (of water) that we did last year, at least for this event.”
Jorgenson said Highway 51 at the the northern edge of Beloit has been prone to flooding.
Also last year, a large pond formed at the intersection of Oakview Drive and Serns Road in the town of Milton, preventing about 15 residents from driving to their homes.
Drivers should avoid streets that appear to be flooded, Jorgenson said.
Kameron Nash, an operations superintendent for the city of Janesville, said crews started clearing snow from storm drains earlier this week. She said many of them are becoming visible.
City officials’ primary concerns are snowmelt, water not being able to enter drains and pooling in yards. Temperatures are going to remain slightly above freezing until about Monday evening, Nash said.
The city then will apply salt to the roads if ice accumulates.
“If we do have some localized flooding this weekend, we will have our crews respond to clear any catch basins as needed,” Nash said. “In the event that we do have a significant rainfall event and there are flooding issues, then we can always help people out.”
The city will provide sandbags to residents upon request, she said.