Eau Claire, Wis. (WEAU) -- It's a common scene in Eau Claire and throughout Western Wisconsin, blocked storm drains from what's been an active winter of snow and ice. A large storm system this weekend is set to bring a mix of rain and snow to the area.
The Eau Claire Streets Manager Steve Thompson estimates around half of the city's storm drains are blocked by ice and snow like this. With heavy rain a possibility for the weekend, street flooding could be an issue.
Much of Western Wisconsin has around a foot of snow on the ground and precipitation values from this system could be as much as an inch. The La Crosse National Weather Service issued a hydrological outlook for much of the area highlighting the concern for minor flooding due to improper drainage from blocked storm drains like this. The city of Eau Claire is working to clear as many storm drains as they can.
"When we've had calls or we've seen them we go out and we get them open up. We got crews working on that today. They're either pushing them open with a loader or a grater or we have a couple of steamers that can steam the ice open," says Thompson.
Thompson recommends clearing snow from the curb line to give storm drains some room. Below is the Hydrological Outlook from the National Weather Service about this weekend’s flood threat.
NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE LA CROSSE WI
230 PM CST THU MAR 7 2013
...RAIN AND SNOWMELT THIS WEEKEND MAY LEAD TO SOME FLOODING
A STRONG STORM SYSTEM WILL BE MOVING ACROSS THE REGION OVER THE
WEEKEND...BRINGING THE THREAT FOR A WINTRY MIX OF PRECIPITATION.
MUCH OF THIS PRECIPITATION LOOKS TO FALL AS MAINLY RAIN...AND WHEN
COMBINED WITH THE SNOW ALREADY ON THE GROUND AND THE RELATIVELY
WARM TEMPERATURES...RUNOFF MAY RESULT IN SOME MINOR FLOODING
PRECIPITATION WILL BEGIN FRIDAY NIGHT...AND LOOKS TO OVERSPREAD THE
REGION ON SATURDAY. LIQUID AMOUNTS OF 1/2 TO 1 INCH ARE EXPECTED BY
SATURDAY NIGHT. THE PRECIPITATION IS EXPECTED TO EVENTUALLY TAPER
OFF BY SUNDAY MORNING.
AS THIS RAIN FALLS INTO THE SNOW ALREADY ON THE GROUND...SOME OF
IT WILL BE ABSORBED AND HELD BY THE INCREASINGLY SLUSHY SNOW.
HOWEVER...SOME OF THE RAIN WILL CAUSE MELTING OF THE SNOW AND ALLOW
FOR RUNOFF INTO CREEKS AND RIVERS. WITH THE DEEP FROST LAYER AND
FROZEN TOPSOIL...THIS RUNOFF COULD OCCUR QUICKLY.
MOST DITCHES AND DRAINAGE AREAS ARE CURRENTLY CLOGGED WITH SNOW AND
ICE. CULVERTS AND SEWER DRAINS MAY ALSO BE BLOCKED. THIS WILL LIKELY
PREVENT PROPER DRAINAGE OF THE WATER IN SOME AREAS...SO EXPECT TO
ENCOUNTER AREAS OF PONDED WATER WHICH MAY RESULT IN MINOR FLOODING.
IN ADDITION...AS THIS WATER MAKES IT INTO THE CREEKS AND TRIBUTARY
RIVERS...SOME SIGNIFICANT RISES ARE ALSO POSSIBLE. THERE IS STILL
ICE IN SOME AREA WATERWAYS...AND SOME OF THIS ICE MAY BREAK UP AND
MOVE DOWNSTREAM...WHERE IT MAY GET CAUGHT AND CAUSE AN ICE JAM.
AGAIN...MINOR FLOODING IS POSSIBLE IN SOME AREAS.
STAY ALERT FOR RISING WATER THROUGH THE WEEKEND.