"Significant flooding risk" identified in Eau Claire area

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EAU CLAIRE, Wis. (WEAU) -- With even more snow in the forecast, concern over flooding is looming over the Chippewa Valley.

Flood outlook data for the Eau Claire area was released by the National Weather Service on Thursday.

Eau Caire County Emergency Management says the Chippewa River in Eau Claire has about a 30 percent chance for exceeding its flood stage, while it typically only sees 7 percent.

Experts say the city is now looking at a significant risk for major flooding.

Eau Claire County Emergency Management says the snowfall is among major contributing factors, including the amount of precipitation this fall, and a major cold snap last month.

“That really put the frost level down pretty far, and now with all of the snow on top of that, those three factors alone, our soil is extremely saturated with water,” says Tyler Esh, Emergency Management Coordinator.

With more snow on the way, Esh adds, “It looks like it could potentially become reality.”

Next week, Eau Claire and surrounding communities will be put to the test during a county-wide flood exercise in preparation for a worst case event.

“We'll go through that scenario, we'll talk about anything from how you would do evacuations, sheltering, provide public messaging,” says Esh.

The exercise would highlight practicing how roles in the community would be taken to the next level.

“What would this look like in a major disaster in the county, what is my role, how do I operate?” says Esh.

In all, experts hope the exercise will help keep the city well prepared for when the snow changes shape.

The county-wide flood exercise is set for February 25.