Flooding possible as Wisconsin braces for rare tropical storm

Flooding possible as Wisconsin braces for rare tropical storm

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Portions of Wisconsin are under a flash-flood watch as the state braces for what would be only the fourth tropical storm in 170 years of modern record keeping.

The National Weather Service expects the remnants of tropical storm Cristobal to move across the state Tuesday and Wednesday, bringing up to 3.5 inches of rain.

Thunderstorms could spawn damaging wind gusts or even a tornado Tuesday afternoon, but the majority of the rain is expected to fall Tuesday evening through Wednesday night, said Denny VanCleve, a meteorologist in the National Weather Service’s Milwaukee office.

The heaviest rainfall is expected to fall over a band from the southwest to northeast corners of the state, which could result in flash flooding. Dane County is expected to have a rainfall of 1.25 to 2 inches.

In addition to flash floods, the storm could produce localized flooding on some rivers in western Wisconsin, said Nicole Batzek, a meteorologist in the National Weather Service’s La Crosse office.

Only three tropical systems have tracked across Wisconsin since records of tropical storms began in 1851, according to the National Weather Service. These occurred in 1900, 1949 and 1988, and primarily affected the southeast corner of the state.

A high pressure ridge to the east is expected to push Cristobal, packing near-record amounts of moisture for this time of year, further west.

“This is supposed to go right up through the gut of the state,” VanCleve said.

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