EAU CLAIRE, Wis. (WEAU) -- Although the ducks seem to be enjoying some extra swimming areas, Eau Claire County Emergency Management says they are the only ones who should be on the water this weekend as the Chippewa River is expected to be two feet above the flood stage with extremely swift currents, uncommon for this time of the year.
“The river is supposed to crest at 775 feet, which is two feet above flood stage in Eau Claire County,” said Tyler Esh, the Eau Claire County Emergency Management Coordinator. “We had a meeting with City of Eau Claire officials and we are working on getting everything kind of set up and preparations in place for closing down low lying areas.”
Esh says the river is currently about 10 feet higher than it was last month. Eau Claire County is currently in a flood warning until Monday morning.
With the rising waters this weekend, UW-Eau Claire is preparing to prevent flooding on campus, especially with more than 6,000 people expected to be there for this weekend's graduation ceremonies.
“Where we are with the projected crest, we will drop the gates on our dam along Little Niagara Creek,” said Mike Rindo, the Assistant Chancellor for Facilities and University Relations at UW-Eau Claire. “Those prevent the river from backing up Little Niagara, and then we use a tractor to power a pump on the dam that pumps water on the Chippewa River, so that's how we can prevent flooding on campus from occurring.”
Esh says they're keeping an eye on 1st Avenue and Chippewa Street for possible road closures this weekend.
High water levels are also expected on the Chippewa River throughout Rusk, Chippewa, Pepin, and Buffalo counties.
Recent heavy rains are resulting in flooding in areas of Eau Claire.
According to the City of Eau Claire, the crest projection for the Chippewa River on Saturday is one half (0.5) foot below flood stage. The city says the Chippewa River trail at Hobbs Boat Loading, the trail behind the Haas Fine Arts Center, near the UW-Eau Claire foot bridge and areas of Owen Park are expected to flood.
Flood waters can cause faster currents and lower water temperatures, which increase the risk of hypothermia. Officials are encouraging people who are using the river to use extra caution.