Wisconsin town evacuated after Manawa Dam bursts during flooding

Water broke a levee in a Wisconsin town during severe thunderstorms on Friday, forcing evacuations and closing roads, officials said.

A small thunderstorm raged over Manawa and the surrounding area on Friday morning, dropping more than 5 inches (14 centimeters) of snow in about four hours, Kurt Kotenberg, a meteorologist at the National Weather Service office in Green Bay, told The Washington Post.

The rains caused flash flooding, and when emergency responders saw the ground eroding at the Manawa Dam, officials began evacuating residents downstream, providing shelter at the town’s Masonic Center and high school. They also evacuated a nursing home to a veterans home in King, about 20 miles away.

At around 12:30 p.m., the overflowing Little Wolf River reached the Manawa Dam, Kotenberg said. Video from WGBA appears to show the river flowing through a breached levee next to the dam as soil continues to crumble into the floodwaters.

No one was injured or killed, Manawa Mayor Mike Frazier said at a news conference.

HAPPENING NOW: The U.S. National Weather Service in Green Bay reports that a dam has broken on the Little Wolf River below the Manawa…

Posted by NBC26 on Friday, July 5, 2024

The storms formed when a slow-moving cold front and low pressure system moved through the region between Friday morning and noon. Precipitation has been much higher than normal in the Upper Midwest since spring, resulting in multiple flooding incidents.

Last month, torrential rains dumped more than 10 inches across Iowa, Minnesota and South Dakota, contributing to widespread flooding in the Midwest and Upper Plains. The rains caused a railroad bridge connecting South Dakota and Iowa to collapse, while the Rapidan Dam near Mankato, Minn., failed, washing away at least one home. The dam is still on the verge of partial collapse.

These floods were made worse by the already wet ground from rainfall in previous months and rising temperatures.

In Manawa, Kotenberg said the area has seen 6 inches of rain in the past two weeks, saturating the ground and adding to Friday’s rainfall potential. He predicts a relatively quiet Saturday, followed by more storms on Sunday, which he expects will drop up to a half-inch of rain in the area.

Jason Samenow and Scott Dance contributed to this report.

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