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One year ago: Burlington flooding and the weather conditions that caused it

“Folks in Walworth, southern Racine, and Kenosha once again buckle your chinstrap you’re looking at another round of showers and thunderstorms (NAT vid from Chris Nelson morning of July 12th)”

Storm after storm after storm hit that morning of July 12th. It’s quite rare to shut down a whole city because of weather, but that’s what the rain and storms did to the city of Burlington one year ago. Historic flooding took place in southeastern Wisconsin on that Wednesday in mid-July in 2017 leaving behind widespread damage, flooding you don’t typically see, even in the Badger State. July 11th and 12th, Burlington and the surrounding areas received between 6”-8” of rainfall, with some estimations on the south side of Burlington to near 10”.

We saw flooding basements...swollen rivers...and the national guard on city streets helping those in need.

The atmospheric setup that caused this is referred to as “the ring of fire”; the ring of fire brings heat, but it also brings storms that can train, or redevelop in the same areas. This is why the region around Burlington received so much rain. The majority of the rain was done by the morning of July 12th. By then, the damage was done. With over a half a foot of rain falling in 24 hours’ time, the rivers rose quickly. The FOX RIVER, WHICH RUNS THROUGH BURLINGTON, IS NORMALLY FOUR FEET DEEP. BUT IT crested on the morning of July 13th to a record 16 and a half feet… smashing the previous record of 2008 by about three feet. (show graphic) The previous record was 13.54 feet in 2008.

Thousands were without power for days.  Streets were impassable and it was hard to get in and out of town, forcing a night time curfew in Burlington.  Governor Walker, Speaker Paul Ryan and others toured the damage.

Erosion forced officials to slowly open the Echo Lake Dam to fix damage and keep water levels down.

When all said and done, almost 4,000 homes were damaged in southeastern Wisconsin from the flooding, and 31 businesses. The bill for this damage: almost $25 million dollars. 

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