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Record Year of Precipitation Causing Issues Along Fox River

The Fox River System is stressed from rainfall
Posted: 12:46 AM, Oct 04, 2019
Updated: 2019-10-04 01:46:53-04
Record Breaking Precipitation Continues

GREEN BAY (NBC 26)--2019 was another record year of precipitation for the city of Green Bay, breaking last year’s record with still months to add onto it. All this water has to go somewhere.

You may have noticed that the water flow on the Fox River has been stronger lately. You aren’t mistaken.

All of Wisconsin has been above average so far this year with precipitation with a good part of our area between 150-175% above normal. This brought us record breaking criteria with over 40 inches of precipitation in Green Bay through October 3rd.

If we see just the average amount of moisture through the end of the year, that would be another 6 inches, that would total us to over 46 inches, 17 inches above normal.

“It has really stressed the entire system. We have been at bank full or over bank full on the majority of the rivers and tributaries for extended periods of time over the last two years.” Said Chad Shaw.

With the latest amount of rainfall we saw earlier this week, that caused Lake Winnebago to rise an additional three inches. It doesn’t sounds like much, however that is equivalent to extra billions of gallons of water than now has to discharge safely down the Fox River.

But complications arise when you have a very high Lake Michigan level combined with strong northeast winds. The big lake peaked at just under 582 inches this year, only a couple inches away from the all time record set back in 1986. With powerful winds channeling down Green Bay, all this extra water piles up and pushes back the water draining down the Fox River.

“We discharge enough down the Fox River to fill Lambeau Field approximately 4.5 times a day. It’s a little over a trillion gallons of water a year.” Said Chad Shaw.

With the strong northeast wind flow we saw the other day however, the amount of water discharged has to be reduced to prevent flooding issues in Brown County until weather conditions improve.

And it does appear that we will be getting some much needed drier weather in the short term, but with all the moisture we have already seen so far this year, the Army Corps of Engineers are already focusing on the long term impacts into the next spring season.

“ Once ice starts to form on Lake Winnebago, with the water levels being so high and having so much water that we are dealing with, we may struggle to bring Lake Winnebago down to a safe level for the spring rains and snow melt sometime in March and April.” Said Chad Shaw.