Flood Safety Awareness Week

By: Mike Breunling
By: Mike Breunling


March 14-18 is Flood Safety Awareness Week in Wisconsin

Because of the overall dry conditions the past few years, we have not had much in the way of flooding through central and northern Wisconsin, even as floods have ravaged portions of Wisconsin and nearby states.

It is important to remember that for our area, as well as much of the northern U.S., flooding can be the result of both spring snowmelt and run-off, as well as any heavy rains the rest of the year.  In fact, even in the absence of spring river flooding recently, parts of our area were affected by heavy rain last September which resulted in river flooding and flash flooding.

In this blog, I'll provide information on flood safety, flood outlooks, and monitoring the status of area rivers.

First, let's review a few of the most commonly used flood related headlines issued by the National Weather  Service:

River Flood Warnings (and Watches):  apply for instances of potential or expected flooding of rivers and streams, and in general are issued for specific rivers.

Flash Flood Warnings (and Watches):  apply for instances when enough rain will occur over a given period of time to cause flooding anywhere: including from rapid rises in the levels of rivers, creeks, and streams, to quick flooding of low-lying areas.  Certain "flood prone areas" certainly muct be monitored, but also in these situations flooding can occur any where.  Flash flooding can occur in a short amount of time and cause significant damage.

Urban and Small Stream Flood Advisory:  apply for instances when enough rain will fall to cause more "nuisance-type" flood concerns, including ponding of water on roads, rises in the levels of small creeks and streams, etc.


One of the most important tips about flood safety is summarized by the National Weather Service slogan-- "Turn Around, Don't Drown" --it is never safe to drive through water that is covering a road, especially if the depth and any current flow is unknown.  As little as a foot of water with some current flow can wash a vehicle off a road.  It may be difficult to discern if any washout of the roadway has occurred.  This is especially true at night.

For more information about flooding and flood safety, click here


The National Weather Service issues updates for upcoming flood potential, click here


The National Weather Service provides a wonderful and easily accessible resource for us to keep updated on the status of the more significant rivers in the area.  Called the Advanced Hydrologic Prediction Service (AHPS), each local NWS office maintains an interactive webpage that provides the current status, as well as the forecast levels for rivers in their area of jurisdiction.

For the AHPS page from the National Weather Service office in:

Green Bay, click here

La Crosse, click here

Duluth, click here

Milwaukee (office located in Sullivan), click here



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