UPDATED Heavy Rainfall and Flooding Information from Early June (2 PM 6/24)

If you have any pictures of flooding, especially flash flooding, please send them to us with your information and location through the webmaster account at w-mkx.webmaster@noaa.gov. These may be used in our web site story on the event.

Visit our AHPS Page for the very latest information on river flooding.

The latest updates:

  • 2 PM 6/24: Finalized all the crest information for rivers that crested recently.

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The first two weeks in June 2008 featured many days with rain, and a few days with an exceptional amount of rain, across Southern Wisconsin. Between June 1st and June 14th, Madison did not record precipitation on only three days. In the same time span, Milwaukee did not record precipitation on only four days.

However, it was not the extended period of rainy weather that caused flooding problems. Those problems were primarily due to two heavy rainfall events - one on June 7th to June 8th, and one on June 12th. At many locations, over 70% of the rain fell on those three days.


Above: Rainfall totals over the NWS Sullivan County Warning Area for June 7th and June 8th.

The heavy rainfall produced flash flooding problems across Southern Wisconsin on several days, with severe river flooding throughout the entire period. Both the rainfall and flooding aspects will be discussed in this writeup, with the heavy rainfall just below, and the flooding further down this web page.




Heavy Rainfall

   
Above: Two images depicting some of the heavy rainfall totals. On the left, a GIS plot of observer rainfall totals from June 1st to June 12th. On the right, an analyzed map of rainfall totals from June 5th to June 12th.

As you can see in these two maps, rainfall totals across Southern Wisconsin during the first couple weeks in June ranged between 6 and 12 inches, with an isolated corridor of 12-16 inches from Northern Sauk County into Northwest Dodge County. Amazingly, these maps look more like a snowfall total map from a winter storm than a rainfall total map from June!


Above: An image of rainfall from June 1st through June 15th over the Upper Midwest, courtesy Midwest Regional Climate Center (MRCC). Data was compiled from official observations and CoCoRaHS observers. Here is a link for more information on CoCoRaHS.

A few rainfall records were broken at Milwaukee. On June 7th, 4.93" of rain broke the old record rainfall for the date which was 2.44" (June 7, 1916). On June 8th, 2.25" of rain broke the old record rainfall for the date which was 1.24" (June 8, 1974). Combined, these two days of rainfall broke the 48-hour all time rainfall record at Milwaukee. The previous record was 6.84", which was recorded on August 5-6, 1986. On June 7-8, 2008, Milwaukee observed 7.18" of rain.

As of June 16, 2008, Milwaukee has already observed 10.96" of rain for the month of June. This already breaks the record for highest June rainfall total. The previous record was 10.13", set in 1917.

The 10.13" of rain in June 1917 was also the record for highest rainfall total in any month at Milwaukee all time. Therefore, the 10.96" of rainfall already observed at Milwaukee sets a new record for maximum monthly rainfall.

Madison also broke some rainfall records in June 2008. On June 7th, 2.23" of rain broke the old record rainfall for the date which was 2.01" (June 7, 1993). On June 8th, 4.11" of rain broke the old record rainfall for the date which was 1.40" (June 8, 1874). On June 12th, 2.57" of rain broke the old record rainfall for the date which was 1.20" (June 8, 1877).

As of June 16, 2008, Madison has already observed 10.63" of rain for the month of June. This already breaks the record for highest June rainfall total. The previous record was 9.95", set in 1978.

The 10.63" of rain in June 2008 also places 5th on the list of record highest rainfall totals in any month at Madison all time. The record is 15.18" of rain, set in August of 2007.

   
Above Left: An image of rainfall surplus/deficit for a grid box centered on Southeast Wisconsin, courtesy Climate Prediction Center (CPC). Above Right: An image of the percentage of normal rainfall for the period June 1-19, courtesy Midwest Regional Climate Center (MRCC).

The amount of rainfall over the first half of June put Southern Wisconsin well above normal precipitation totals for that time of year. In fact precipitation for much of the spring and into June was well above normal. According to the Midwest Regional Climate Center graphic above, precipitation amounts from June 1st to June 19th were over 400% of normal values across portions of Southern Wisconsin. In fact, the most anomalously high precipitation values were observed over Southern Wisconsin. The exceptional amount of rainfall in a short period of time allowed for widespread flooding issues to develop.




Flash Flooding

Flash flooding was especially a problem on June 7th and June 8th, when a large portion of the total rainfall during the first two weeks in June 2008 fell. Flash flooding was reported as early as 2:43 PM on June 7th when water was reported to be over Interstate-39 where it met Highway 78 in Columbia County. After that, numerous reports of flash flooding were received from across Southern Wisconsin from June 7th through June 8th. The hardest hit areas by flash flooding appeared to be from Sauk County into Columbia County, and then Waukesha County into Milwaukee County.


Photo courtesy of John Griswold.

On June 7th, numerous road washouts were reported in Sauk and Columbia Counties. A few bridges were washed away in Sauk County around Reedsburg and La Valle. In Waukesha and Milwaukee Counties, vehicles were stalling and floating in water at some intersections and in some parking lots. Manhole covers were being blown off from water pressure, and a few roads were also washing out. Just west of Downtown Milwaukee, around 2 feet of water was reported, causing damage to buildings and cars were floating in intersections. Some people in Milwaukee County had to abandon their vehicles and swim to safety. At one point, a section of Interstate-894 had to be closed near 27th street due to water over the freeway and on/off ramps. Mitchell International Airport was closed at 8 PM due to major flooding, and the contract observer there reported waist deep water flowing into their building. Also, a state of emergency was declared in Milwaukee.

Outside of those four counties, sporadic reports of flash flooding were received on June 7th. Notably, a spotter 4 miles north-northeast of Sun Prairie (Dane County) received 1.65" of rain in 20 minutes, and then later received another 0.40" of rain in 10 minutes. These extremely heavy rainfall rates were probably typical of what was being observed elsewhere around the area, given the extremely moist air mass in place across the region.

On June 8th, yet another round of heavy rainfall only exacerbated flooding problems by producing more episodes of flash flooding across Southern Wisconsin. Many road closures and washouts were reported from numerous counties. The Kilbourn Tunnel in Milwaukee had to be closed due to the flash flooding.

On June 12th, more heavy rainfall caused flash flooding issues, but this time in some areas that had not previously reported severe flash flooding. Fond du Lac County was hit particularly hard. Most city roads in Fond du Lac were reported to be underwater. The Fond du Lac River was over bridges in some places. In Ripon, over half the roads were closed due to flash flooding. 3 to 4 feet of standing water was observed over portions of the southern half of the city. In Columbia County, Interstate 90/94 was closed between mile markers 92 and 106, and numerous roads were washed out across the county. In Dodge County, some residences in Beaver Dam had about 2 feet of water surrounding the homes.




River Flooding

Numerous area rivers hit record levels during a major flooding event over Southern Wisconsin in the early half of June. 24 locations reached record high levels. That represents over half of the 43 river gauges in the NWS Milwaukee/Sullivan hydrologic service area. Most of those that did not reach record levels had crests in the top 5 all time. Some of the data is missing, due to damage to the gauges, communications, and/or loss of power. Therefore, some of these crests may have been higher than the data suggests.

Also, the Cooperative Institute for Satellite Studies at the University of Wisconsin Madison has developed a comparison of satellite images before and after the flooding. To view these images, click here for their blog archive.

Jump to Spring Creek
Jump to the Fox River (North)
Jump to the Rock River
Jump to the Crawfish River
Jump to the Beaver Dam River
Jump to the Bark River
Jump to the Mukwonago River
Jump to the Oak Creek
Jump to the Milwaukee River
Jump to the Root River
Jump to the Fox River (South)

Information for the Baraboo River, including the gages at Rock Springs, West Baraboo and Baraboo is provided below.

The Baraboo River

At Rock Springs
Crest 28.47 ft (New Record) Occurred 06/10/08
Old Record 21.71 ft Occurred 06/02/2000
Flood Stage 18.50 ft Major Stage 23.00 ft
Records Since 2000 County Sauk

   
Flooding pictures from the Baraboo River in Sauk County. On the right, a river gage station being impacted by the flood waters.

   
More flooding pictures from near the Baraboo River in Sauk County.

At West Baraboo
Crest 13.69 ft (New Record) Occurred 06/12/08
Old Record 7.57 ft Occurred 08/21/2007
Flood Stage 12.00 ft Major Stage 16.00 ft
Records Since 2004 County Sauk

At Baraboo
Crest 25.95 ft (New Record) Occurred 06/13/08
Old Record 25.10 ft Occurred 03/26/1917
Flood Stage 16.00 ft Major Stage 23.10 ft
Records Since 1942 County Sauk

Spring Creek


At Lodi
Crest 8.40 ft (New Record) Occurred 06/09/08
Old Record 7.70 ft Occurred 08/19/2007
Flood Stage 6.50 ft Major Stage 7.50 ft
Records Since 2004 County Columbia

Fox River


At Berlin
Crest 16.08 ft (2nd Highest) Occurred 06/22/08
Record 16.22 ft Occurred 06/18/2004
Flood Stage 13.00 ft Major Stage 16.00 ft
Records Since 1954 County Green Lake

Rock River


At Waupun
Crest 10.07 ft (New Record) Occurred 06/13/08
Old Record 7.97 ft Occurred 04/03/1959
Flood Stage 6.00 ft Major Stage 10.00 ft
Records Since 1948 County Fond du Lac

At Horicon
Crest 10.29 ft (New Record) Occurred 06/17/08
Old Record 10.00 ft Occurred 04/09/1998
Flood Stage 8.50 ft Major Stage 11.00 ft
Records Since 1997 County Dodge

At Watertown
Crest 7.81 ft (New Record) Occurred 06/13/08
Old Record 6.96 ft Occurred 01/17/1997
Flood Stage 5.50 ft Major Stage 6.50 ft
Records Since 1931 County Jefferson

At Jefferson
Crest 15.64 ft (New Record) Occurred 06/18/08
Old Record 12.84 ft Occurred 04/02/1979
Flood Stage 10.00 ft Major Stage 13.00 ft
Records Since 1978 County Jefferson

At Fort Atkinson
Crest 10.85 ft (New Record) Occurred 06/21/08
Old Record 7.33 ft Occurred 04/16/2008
Flood Stage 6.00 ft Major Stage 8.00 ft
Records Since 1998 County Jefferson

   
Above: Sandbagging efforts to keep homes and roads dry. Flooding pictures are from the Crawfish and Rock Rivers from the Jefferson through Fort Atkinson areas.

   
Above: Water over a road on the left, and threatening a bridge on the right. Flooding pictures are from the Crawfish and Rock Rivers from the Jefferson through Fort Atkinson areas.

   
Above: Water submerging a baseball field on the left, and over roads in a neighborhood on the right. Flooding pictures are from the Crawfish and Rock Rivers from the Jefferson through Fort Atkinson areas.

   
Above: Water affecting roads and reaching the foundations of apartment buildings. Flooding pictures are from the Crawfish and Rock Rivers from the Jefferson through Fort Atkinson areas.

   
Above: Scenes that were common through much of Southern Wisconsin. Water forcing road closures, and impacting farmers’ fields. Flooding pictures are from the Crawfish and Rock Rivers from the Jefferson through Fort Atkinson areas.

At Newville
Crest 15.12 ft (New Record) Occurred 06/21/08
Old Record 12.23 ft Occurred 04/25/1993
Flood Stage 10.00 ft Major Stage 11.50 ft
Records Since 1987 County Jefferson

At Indianford
Crest 18.33 ft (New Record) Occurred 06/21/08
Old Record 16.23 ft Occurred 04/05/1979
Flood Stage 15.00 ft Major Stage 17.00 ft
Records Since 1975 County Rock

At Afton
Crest 13.51 ft (New Record) Occurred 06/21/08
Old Record 13.05 ft Occurred 02/05/1916
Flood Stage 9.00 ft Major Stage 12.20 ft
Records Since 1898 County Rock

Crawfish River


At Milford
Crest 13.58 ft (New Record) Occurred 06/16/08
Old Record 11.15 ft Occurred 04/06/1959
Flood Stage 7.00 ft Major Stage 10.00 ft
Records Since 1931 County Jefferson

Beaver Dam River


At Beaver Dam
Crest 845.53 ft (New Record) Occurred 06/16/08
Old Record 843.10 ft Occurred 06/14/2004
Flood Stage 843.50 ft Major Stage 846.00 ft
Records Since 1985 County Dodge

Bark River


At Rome
Crest 4.47 ft (New Record) Occurred 06/09/08
Old Record 2.67 ft Occurred 04/11/2008
Flood Stage 3.00 ft Major Stage 5.00 ft
Records Since 1979 County Jefferson

Mukwonago River


At Mukwonago
Crest 4.95 ft (New Record) Occurred 06/13/08
Old Record 3.65 ft Occurred 09/26/2005
Flood Stage 5.00 ft Major Stage 6.00 ft
Records Since 1973 County Waukesha

Oak Creek


At South Milwaukee
Crest 11.41 ft (New Record) Occurred 06/08/08
Old Record 9.88 ft Occurred 08/06/1986
Flood Stage 8.00 ft Major Stage 11.00 ft
Records Since 1963 County Milwaukee

Milwaukee River


At Cedarburg
Crest 13.93 ft (New Record) Occurred 06/13/08
Old Record 13.19 ft Occurred 05/24/2004
Flood Stage 11.00 ft Major Stage 14.00 ft
Records Since 1981 County Ozaukee

At Milwaukee
Crest 7.34 ft (2nd Highest) Occurred 06/14/08
Record Crest 7.50 ft Occurred 08/06/1998
Flood Stage 7.00 ft Major Stage 9.00 ft
Records Since 1914 County Milwaukee

Root River


At Franklin
Crest 11.00 ft (New Record) Occurred 06/08/08
Old Record 9.57 ft Occurred 03/30/1960
Flood Stage 8.00 ft Major Stage 12.00 ft
Records Since 1963 County Milwaukee

Canal near Raymond
Crest 12.12 ft (New Record) Occurred 06/09/08
Old Record 11.66 ft Occurred 08/21/2007
Flood Stage 9.00 ft Major Stage 12.00 ft
Records Since 1963 County Racine

at Racine
Crest 11.29 ft (New Record) Occurred 06/09/08
Old Record 8.54 ft Occurred 03/05/1974
Flood Stage 7.00 ft Major Stage 8.00 ft
Records Since 1963 County Racine

   
Flooding pictures from Racine around the Root River.

   
More flooding pictures from Racine around the Root River; water over roadways and around houses.

   
More flooding pictures from Racine around the Root River.

Fox River


At Waukesha
Crest 8.87 ft (New Record) Occurred 06/09/08
Old Record 7.42 ft Occurred 04/22/1973
Flood Stage 6.00 ft Major Stage 10.00 ft
Records Since 1963 County Waukesha

   
A couple of pictures showing the flooding of the Fox River near Waukesha.

At Burlington
Crest 13.54 ft (New Record) Occurred 06/15/08
Old Record 12.50 ft Occurred 08/21/2007
Flood Stage 11.00 ft Major Stage 14.00 ft
Records Since 2001 County Racine

At New Munster
Crest 15.18 ft (New Record) Occurred 06/15/08
Old Record 14.98 ft Occurred 08/24/2007
Flood Stage 10.00 ft Major Stage 14.00 ft
Records Since 1993 County Kenosha



Other Flooding Pictures


   
More flooding around the Lone Rock area of Sauk County, including water inundating a lumber yard (right).

   
Flooding around the Lone Rock area of Sauk County.

   
Flooding pictures from Sheboygan County (courtesy of Gary Austin, NWS GRB). On the left, the Pigeon River near Howards Grove. On the right, Memorial park just north of the previously mentioned bridge.

   
Aerial photographs of flooding from Dodge County, courtesy of Dodge County Sheriff’s Department.

   
Flooding near the Lowell Dam, courtesy of Dodge County Sheriff’s Department.


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