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Snowmelt helps fill reservoirs, leads to flooding in some areas

Wisconsin Valley Improvement Company

The rapid snowmelt this week has led to some minor flooding along rivers that have impacted some roads and parks in the Northwoods.

While it’s causing problems for some, it’s helped replenish water bodies and bring the area out of a drought.

Up until last fall, the Wisconsin Valley Improvement Company was doing its drought contingency plan consultations.

Water levels across the Northwoods were getting low.

Then the Northwoods got a big rain event in November and a near-record amount of snow this winter.

“That snow event that happened two weekends ago on Friday and Saturday two of our locations recorded over three inches of water in that snow. We’re having reports of eight to nine inches of water just in the snow in the Northwoods. We are definitely out of the drought,” said Peter Hansen, the Executive Officer, Operations and Dam Safety for WVIC.

Hansen says most of the northern reservoirs still have room for more rain and runoff.

The Spirit and Eau Pleine Reservoirs are full to the point WVIC needs to be releasing water which will likely lead to some more flooding.

The Spirit Dam in Lincoln County will see a particularly high flow. Lincoln County had to close County Highway E between CTH O and STH 86 Thursday because of it.

“That one, the amount of runoff is significant. In fact, we were told by U.S.G.S. that the reading [Wednesday] night is the second highest flow rating since 1964,” said Hansen.

Hansen urges people to be cautious around rivers this time of year.

Conditions change rapidly.

“There’s some fast-moving water. You need to be careful. You don’t want to get yourself caught in the water. Boaters should be aware that, especially us dam operators are having to make some pretty significant changes over the course of time. It’s a dangerous time along the water,” said Hansen.

You can view information on water levels and safety on the WVIC website.

Katie Thoresen is WXPR's News Director/Vice President.
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