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Modeling Effects Of Massive Rainfall Impacting Madison (isthmus) Shows Stunning Results

August 24, 2018

After the rainfall in Madison and Dane County Monday night I started looking for more data and research to better understand the impact of such storms for the area I call home.  I found the following, and please take note Dane County received 14 inches of rain which will run down through the Four Lakes.  (As background I live 67 footsteps from my front stoop to the Lake Monona shoreline.  I also live on the highest area of this portion of the isthmus–a drumlin.)


Working with Ken Potter, UW-Madison civil and environmental engineering professor, and students Doug Brugger, Dan Fletcher and Pearl May, we used National Weather Service radar data from June 2008 to simulate the extreme rainfall of the Baraboo storm falling over the Madison area. The results are sobering. The storm transposition shows rainfall across the upper Yahara Watershed draining into Lake Mendota, the headwaters lake in the chain, and raising the water level high enough to overflow the banks and flood portions of central Madison and nearby neighborhoods. Estimates of the duration of this simulated flooding range from days to weeks, depending on how quickly downstream flood flows would be able to move. Damage would be catastrophic.


  1. Nan permalink
    October 10, 2018 5:28 PM

    Concerning to me the efforts at making changes is going so slow but the rains are falling hard once again. I live not far from Yahara River and wish for some more movement by our city and county.

  2. Bradley permalink
    September 13, 2018 2:55 AM

    Madison and Dane County must make tough decisions about the future height of the lakes. Residents on Lake Mendota will have to accept lower lake levels for the safety of the entire area.

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