Major Flooding & Storms in Southern Wisconsin

Well it appears once again this year severe weather has struck during the first week of June leading to some extreme weather conditions in the Badger State. I don't want to discount the fact that we did have some wind damage reports here in Central Wisconsin from storms hitting near Antigo but it seems minor in comparison to what folks down to our south are going through. Let's dive into more detail on how the severe flooding rains and tornadoes came together. First off let's start way upstairs at 35,000 feet in the atmosphere and talk about the jet stream. At the present time the jet stream, which helps to guide storm systems across the country is amplified, featuring a big trough across the western US and ridge in the east. That has translated to sizzling summer heat in the east from New York to Philadelphia and down toward the Carolinas. On the opposite side of the spectrum, cool air from Canada has settled into the Pacific Northwest and northern Rockies. Of course, that leaves us right in between it all, with the upper level winds streaking through the western Great Lakes. So any ripple of low pressure riding along the jet has been crossing through our region. Meantime, the main features at the surface level from this past weekend included a fickle cold front which initially came through Central Wisconsin on Friday afternoon without much fanfare. However this boundary stalled out to the south and actually lifted back just to our northwest before hitting the brakes on Saturday. This helped to guide in warm, moist air from the southern plains and provided the trail for the waves of rain and thunderstorms that pounded the southern third of Wisconsin both Saturday and Sunday. Rainfall amounts over this past weekend statewide ranged from less than an inch in Rhinelander and Phillips to 1.42" in Wausau, to 5.25" in Arkdale, to over 7" in Milwaukee and Madison (which set rainfall records) to the highest amounts on order of 8 to 10" near Wisconsin Dells back down through Viroqua and Platteville in SW Wisconsin. Numerous rivers raged out of their banks and many roads ended up being flooded out. You may have even caught the video of a few homes near Lake Delton being literally split in half and pulled down stream. For more, here is a link to our sister station WMTV NBC 15 in Madison with video of those homes being swept away and the latest on the flooding in Lake Delton. I also included a brief video clip of one of those houses being swept away.

If this wasn't enough there were approximately 12 tornadoes that worked through Grant, La Crosse, Vernon, Southern Adams, Columbia, Marquette, Dane, Dodge, Sauk, and Waukesha counties over this past weekend. Here are links to the La Crosse and Milwaukee National Weather Service pages. The strength of these twisters ranged from EF0 (65-85 mph) which is on the weak side of the scale to EF2 (111-135 mph) which is moderate to strong. Also of note through June 8th, 17 tornadoes have been reported in Wisconsin.

So are we out of the woods for the time being? Unfortunately it doesn't appear so as this week goes along, with additional rounds of rain and thunderstorms anticipated statewide, and even worse, more rain possible in southern Wisconsin along with the potential for strong to severe storms in association with a cold front that is forecast to gradually slide through our area before the end of the week.

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