Wisconsin residents are preparing for flooded rivers, streets and low-lying areas as a rapid snow melt and heavy rain combine to bring flooding conditions to the state.
The National Weather Service has a flood watch in effect in until Friday morning for parts of south-central Wisconsin, east-central Wisconsin and southeast Wisconsin, including Dane County and all surrounding counties, and flood warnings have been issued for counties to the west and north.
Rock Springs in Sauk County could be hit hard by flooding, with the Baraboo River expected to crest at 8 feet above flood stage by Saturday evening, which would flood the downtown area with 2 to 3 feet of water, the Weather Service said.
"Many rivers are expected to reach minor flood stage, but a few are forecast to reach moderate and even major flood stage," the Weather Service said.
Nationally, the powerful system was bringing or was forecast to bring blizzard conditions to the west and north of Wisconsin, and severe weather to the south.
The very wet conditions could be the cause for a sinkhole that developed overnight on the southbound side of Highway 213 in Orfordville, with traffic being detoured around the sinkhole until it can be repaired, state highway officials said.
Since the ground still has frost in it, snow melt and rain has nowhere else to go but storm drains and ditches.
"Low-land flooding is likely, due to overflowing ditches from snow melt in the fields and marshes, and urban flooding is a concern due to storm drains blocked from ice and debris," the flood watch bulletin said.
Above normal temperatures are forecast in the Madison area Wednesday and Thursday, with highs reaching 49 and 60 and the overnight low only dropping to 46.
Showers are likely between 8 a.m. and 2 p.m. Wednesday, with patchy fog possible before 3 p.m. Showers and a possible thunderstorm are likely at night, with some storms producing heavy rain.
The Thursday scenario is showers and a possible thunderstorm before 8 a.m., then showers and storms up to 2 p.m. and showers afterward.
We could see a quarter-inch of rain Wednesday and a half-inch Wednesday night, then less than a tenth of an inch on Thursday, unless thunderstorms develop and produce heavy rain.
Winds are also expected to be strong, gusting up to 30 mph Wednesday and 35 mph Wednesday night.
Fog could also be a problem thanks to the melting snow, with patchy dense fog possible Wednesday night into Thursday morning.
Cold air moves into the region Thursday night, and with it the chance for rain and snow overnight.
Highs will be closer to normal for the weekend.
The forecast calls for a high of 38 on Friday under cloudy skies, 37 and sun on Saturday and 40 and sun on Sunday.
Monday should be good with sun and 39, then there is a slight chance for rain on Tuesday with a high of 41.
Tuesday's high in Madison was 42, 1 degree above normal and 33 degrees below the record high of 75 for March 12, set in 1990.
The low of 15 was 8 degrees below normal and 22 degrees above the record low of 7 below for the date, set in 1948.
Two-hundredths of an inch of precipitation (rain plus snow converted to liquid) fell at the airport, bringing the March and meteorological spring (March through May) total up to 0.52 inches, 0.21 inches below normal.
The record precipitation total on March 12 was 0.81 inches in 1923, which came down as the record 12.9 inches of snow on that date.
Since Jan. 1, Madison has received 6.02 inches of precipitation, 2.61 inches above normal.
Madison has received 2.8 inches of snow in March and the spring, 0.5 inches below normal.
During the snow season from July 1 to June 30, Madison has received 54.3 inches of snow, 9.9 inches above normal.