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Winds, Torrential Rains Batter, Soak Palo Alto County

Area Under Flash Flood Warning Following Rains

June 19, 2014
Emmetsburg News

After a sample of her whims on Saturday, Mother Nature uncorked a whopper Monday afternoon and evening across Northwest Iowa and Palo Alto County. Starting around 5 p.m. the skies darkened and winds soon gusted as high as 60 miles an hour across the region, causing considerable tree damage in the area, and the rains fell in a virtual torrent from the skies, dumping up to nearly nine inches of water on already saturated ground throughout the county.

Area fire departments were called on to provide storm spotting around 5 p.m. Monday as the line of storms began to work their way into the region after starting near the Iowa-South Dakota boarder. Near Ruthven, winds were reported at 60 miles an hour and higher by firefighters, who scanned the skies for cloud rotation and possible funnel clouds after receiving reports of funnel clouds near Webb.

Tornado warnings were issued around 5:40 p.m. for the county, with warning sirens sounded in the various communities. The sirens would sound almost non-stop for over a half-hour as the winds and rain battered the area. Reports of hail were inconsistent, and rainfall amounts were reported at three inches in Graettinger up to five inches in Ruthven and eight and a half inches in Ayrshire. Rainfall totals in Emmetsburg were reported at five inches, while the West Bend area received five and a half to six and a half inches of rainfall.

Article Photos

STORM?CASUALTY - A large tree on the east side of Soper Park was toppled by the high winds Monday evening and fell across North Broadway, blocking both lanes for a time. City crews removed the tree around 7:30 p.m. between the bouts of heavy rain that drenched Palo Alto County and caused Flash Flood warnings to be issued for the area through the week’s end. More rain is forecast later in the week. -- Dan Voigt photo

Another inch (or more) of rain fell on already saturated soil Tuesday night. The rain was accompanied by high winds and tornado warnings,causing even more tree and some building damage throughout the county.

After Monday's storms, Palo Alto County Emergency Management Director Mark Hunefeld pointed out that the south end of Palo Alto County received more than its share of rain.

"There was a lot of rain all along the southern boundary," he said. "There is a lot of field flooding, with lakes of water, especially in the Mallard area and around Rodman. A few fields look wind blown, but that could also have been the wind/rain combination."

Fact Box

West Fork of the Des Moines River, Emmetsburg

River stage: 7 a.m. Saturday 2.44'

7 a.m. Sunday 2.86' 7 a.m. Monday 5.09'

7 a.m. Tuesday 9.67' 7 a.m. Wednesday 10.29'

Minor flooding occurs at 11' Projected crest 11.4' Friday

Drivers on Highway 18 had to traverse water across the roadway east of Emmetsburg and east of Cylinder Tuesday morning. Hunefeld said the water had subsided by noon Tuesday.

He added that damage to rural roads and bridges will be assessed when the rains subside.

There was so much rain in the Rush Lake area, boats were torn free from the docks and the road had to be closed off. There was also a lot of tree damage

Hunefeld reported a couple of tornadoes formed but did not touch down. These were sighted near Plover, southwest of Mallard and southeast of West Bend.

At one point, when Hunefeld was driving through the county, the temperature dropped dramatically in a two mile stretch. In that time the temperature dropped from 71 to 61 degrees.

Many residents in Emmetsburg experienced water in basements.

"The storm sewers took all the water they could handle and there is ponding where there are no storm sewers,"?said Bill Dickey, Emmetsburg Public Works Director. "We can't take much more. The ground is completely saturated."

North Grand still has water over the street. Additional rain early Wednesday morning added to the road flooding.



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