Authorities were scrambling to deal with numerous stranded cars, closed roads and other problems caused by flooding as heavy storms continued to pound south-central Wisconsin on Wednesday.
The National Weather Service reported that as of 10 a.m. Wednesday Madison has received 30.58 inches of rain this year, breaking the all-time year-to-date record set in 2008.
"We've surpassed it," meterologist Morgan Brooks told the Wisconsin State Journal.
The city had 27.39 inches of rain through Tuesday, just below the 2008 total of 27.61 inches through June 25, Brooks said. Another 3.19 inches fell through 10 a.m. Wednesday, with more expected later Wednesday, and there was no rain on June 26 in 2008, she said.
The full year rain record was set in 1881, with 52.91 inches.
Madison police reported widespread flooding, with stranded motorists in several parts of the city.
"The water is really slowing people down,” Sgt. Mike Hanson told the State Journal. “Everyone’s got to exercise extreme patience.”
As of 8 a.m., Madison police officers were redirecting traffic on parts of the Beltline and at least seven intersections: Watts Road and Gammon Road; Eau Claire Avenue and Buffalo Trail; Deming way and Blackhawk Drive; North Stoughton Road and Lexington Avenue; University Avenue and Campus Drive; North Park Street and Spring Street; and Mineral Point Road and Science Drive.
Outside of Madison, authorities reported that flooding had closed Highway 19 in both directions between County F and Highway 12 in Dane County, Highway 92 in both directions between County X and County E southeast of Belleville in Green County, and Highway 59 in both directions at Badfish Creek in Rock County. Those roads were expected to remain closed into at least early Wednesday afternoon.
J. McLellan, spokesman for Dane County Emergency Management, said officials were investigating reports of houses damaged by water in McFarland and possibly other areas. He urged county residents to try to prevent damage at home.
“Make sure your gutters and downspouts are clear. Make sure drains are clear,” McLellan said. “Get your stuff off the floor in the basement.”
With most ground saturated throughout the county, the problems are widespread, he said: “There’s no specific area. It’s scattered all across the county.”
Dane County Emergency Management reported shortly before 6 a.m. that several villages in northern Dane County were reporting up to 3 feet of water in streets.
The Weather Service said 2 to 4 inches of rain has fallen early Wednesday morning from Sun Prairie to Sauk City, closing Highway 23 near Badger street in Loganville.
“Most flood deaths occur in automobiles,” the Weather Service warned. “Never drive your vehicle into areas where the water covers the roadway. Flood waters are usually deeper than they appear. Just one foot of flowing water is powerful enough to sweep vehicles off the Road. When encountering flooded roads make the smart choice: turn around, don’t drown.”
"Excessive runoff from heavy rainfall will cause flooding of small creeks and streams, highways and underpasses. Additionally, country roads and farmlands along the banks of creeks, streams and other low-lying areas are subject to flooding."
The Weather Service issued flash flood warnings that included Dane County, southeastern Sauk County and southwestern Columbia County that lasted until 8:30 a.m. A flash flood watch expired at 11 a.m. Wednesday for the counties of Dane, Columbia, Green, Iowa, Lafayette, Rock, Sauk and Walworth, but more rain is expected.
The Weather Service said 3 to 5 inches of additional rain is possible in areas that already have received 6 to 10 inches since the weekend.
“Hilly terrain, especially in Iowa and Sauk counties, will be especially susceptible to flash flooding and road washouts,” the Weather Service said.
A low pressure system moving slowly across Wisconsin means the threat for heavy rains and storms, some of which could be severe, will continue through Wednesday, the Weather Service said.
The chance for showers and thunderstorms continues after Wednesday at 50 percent Wednesday night, 40 percent Thursday and Friday, 30 percent Friday night, 50 percent Saturday, 20 percent Saturday night, and 20 percent Tuesday.
Skies are forecast to be partly sunny Wednesday and Thursday, mostly sunny Friday, mostly cloudy Saturday, then mostly sunny Sunday through Tuesday as the area should finally get a chance to dry out.
The Weather Service expects highs in Madison for Wednesday through Tuesday near 85, 84, 79, 74, 76, 77 and 77, and lows Wednesday night through Monday night around 67, 64, 61, 59, 58 and 58.
27 Storm Track meteorologist Brian Olson forecasts just spotty, scattered and isolated showers and storms from Thursday through next Wednesday as the area gets a chance to dry out.
Olson expects highs in Madison for Wednesday through next Wednesday near 84, 85, 80, 74, 79, 80, 81 and 78, and overnight lows around 65, 64, 62, 57, 56, 56, 60 and 64.
Tuesday’s high in Madison was 82 at 4:09 p.m., 1 degree above normal and 15 degrees below the record high of 97 for June 25, set in 1988.
Tuesday’s low in Madison was 66 at 5:33 a.m., 7 degrees above normal and 30 degrees above the record low of 36 for June 25, set in 1979.
Officially, 0.92 inches of rain fell at the Dane County Regional Airport on Tuesday, boosting Madison’s June and meteorological summer (June through August) precipitation total (rain plus snow converted to liquid) to 7.3 inches, 3.51 inches above normal. For 2013, Madison’s precipitation total rose to 27.39 inches, 11.77 inches above normal.
The totals do not include the heavy rains that fell after midnight.