Rain, snowmelt make flooding possible


Leader Staff

Rain, thunderstorms and melting snow may create a flooding hazard in Shawano and Menominee counties into the weekend, the National Weather Service predicts.

Melting snow and periods of rain could produce standing water in low spots on roads, sidewalks, and parking lots. Rivers, creeks and streams will also continue to rise. into the weekend. The Wolf River is expected to be near flood stage at some sites this weekend, the Weather Service said.

The Shawano area is like most of Wisconsin in experiencing fog, rain and potential flooding.

A fire official says workers have helped as many as 300 people evacuate from their homes because of ice-jam flooding along the Fond du Lac River in eastern Wisconsin.

Fond du Lac Fire Division Chief Troy Haase says firefighters have been to 15 homes and three separate apartment buildings to help people evacuate Thursday as water swamps local roads and basements.

A utility company is shutting off gas and electricity to flooded homes. The American Red Cross is setting up a shelter to help those forced from their homes.

In Waushara County Thursday afternoon, all east and west bound lanes were closed on Wisconsin Highway 21 between 4th Ave and Wisconsin Highway 13 in Coloma because of water over the road.

Rapid snow melt in southern Wisconsin is continuing to cause flooding problems on roads and highways with closures in Dane, Lafayette, Sauk and Iowa counties.

The National Weather Service issued a flood warning or flood watch for about two-thirds of the state.

The wet weather is part of a large storm system crossing the U.S. over the past several days.

A blizzard that paralyzed parts of Colorado and Wyoming barreled into the Midwest on Thursday, bringing whiteout conditions to western Nebraska and dumping heavy rain that prompted evacuations in communities father east.

Emergency crews responded after a vehicle was swept off a road in Norfolk, Nebraska, and rising water along the Elkhorn River prompted evacuations of the eastern side of the city of 24,000 people. The missing individual had not been found by midmorning Thursday.

South Dakota’s governor closed all state offices Thursday as the blizzard conditions moved in, while wind, blowing snow and snow-packed roadways made travel treacherous in western Nebraska. Heavy rain caused flooding in eastern parts of both states, as well as in Iowa.

The massive late-winter storm hit Colorado on Wednesday, causing widespread power outages, forced the cancellation of hundreds of flights and wreaked havoc on roadways as drivers became overwhelmed by blinding snow. A wind gust clocked in at 97 mph (156 kph) in Colorado Springs.

In the Texas Panhandle, a utility worker was killed while working to restore power amid strong winds pushed in by the storm. Wind gusts in the area exceeded 80 mph (128.74 kph).

The storm also contributed to the death of Daniel Groves, a Colorado State Patrol officer who was hit and killed by a car as he helped another driver who had slid off Interstate 76 near Denver.

National Guard troops used specialized vehicles with tank-like treads to rescue stranded drivers. Officials with the Colorado National Guard and state police said they believed all stranded motorists had been rescued overnight, but searches were ongoing Thursday.

The Red Cross reported Thursday that 620 people had stayed in shelters overnight in Colorado and Wyoming.

The window-rattling storm brought blizzards, floods and a tornado across more than 25 states Wednesday, stretching from the northern Rocky Mountains to Texas and beyond.

“This is a very epic cyclone,” said Greg Carbin, chief of forecast operations for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Weather Prediction Center. “We’re looking at something that will go down in the history books.”

The culprit was a sudden and severe drop in ground-level air pressure in Colorado, the most pronounced dive since 1950, Carbin said. It was caused by a combination of the jet stream and normal conditions in the wind shadow of the Rockies.

Air rushed into the low-pressure area and then rose into the atmosphere.

“It’s like a vacuum cleaner, really,” Carbin said. When that much air rushes higher into the atmosphere, it causes severe weather.

Meteorologists call the rapid change in pressure a “bomb cyclone” or “bombogenesis.”

A tornado in New Mexico ripped roofs from buildings in the small town of Dexter, about 200 miles (320 kilometers) southwest of Albuquerque. Authorities said five people were hurt, but none of the injuries was life-threatening. A dairy euthanized about 150 cows injured by the tornado.

High winds knocked 25 railroad freight cars off a bridge into a mostly dry riverbed near Logan in northeast New Mexico. No one was injured, New Mexico State Police said.

The Associated Press contributed to this story.