Rains push levels closer to normal

Published 10:10 am Tuesday, June 9, 2009

The thunder rumbled, the lightning flashed and the rain poured down early Monday.

While the piercing sounds may have prevented some residents from a good night’s sleep, the storms were needed.

Prior to the weekend, portions of Mower County were classified as abnormally dry, according to weather forecasters.

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The downpour brought more than 3 inches of rain from Saturday beginning at midnight through Monday afternoon.

“Yes, this is going to actually help the area because the area was abnormally dry,” said Dan Jones, meteorologist for the National Weather Service in La Crosse, Wis.

Jones added that before this past weekend, the region had a precipitation deficit of 6.34 inches for the period beginning June 15, 2008.

Farmers welcomed the rain as well.

Eugene Anderson, a Waltham dairy farmer who also raises corn, beans, oats and alfalfa, said crop conditions are actually ahead of last year’s pace, but also added that the rain was quite needed.

“We weren’t in desperate need of rain, but we would have needed it before too long,” he said.

Monday’s storm was also a local reminder that substantial amounts of rain can come in a hurry.

During this month last year, the county declared the region a state of emergency when five and a half inches of rain fell overnight June 11.

In that storm, the communities of Racine, Grand Meadow and Frankford township in the northeast corner of the county appeared to be the hardest hit.

“Since the floods of September, 2004, the roads and bridges have all been repaired from that flood,” county engineer Mike Hanson said one year ago. “This isn’t as bad as 2004, but it’s going to be bad.”

It’s a different story so far for 2009.

Rusty Dawkins, chief meteorologist for KAAL TV in Austin, said that before this past weekend, the water level at the Cedar River was at about 3 and a half feet. On Monday afternoon, it had risen to 7 and a half feet, but still only about half the height of flood level.

“If we were to get another four to five inches of rain in the next couple of days, we might have some issues, but fortunately that’s not in the forecast,” Dawkins said.