New water hazard

 Flood waters inundate the 14th tee at Rolling Oaks Golf Course, Barron, after a rain deluge Sunday night and early Monday morning, June 28-29, 2020. Photo by Bob Zientara

Heavy rainfall is in the forecast for Barron County today, Wednesday, July 1, 2020, just two days after a deluge dropped as much as four and one-half inches of rain on parts of the area, according to the National Weather Service.

But flash flooding doesn’t appear to be a danger today or the rest of the week, according to the Barron County Sheriff’s Department office of Emergency Services.

The storm dropped up to nine and one-half inches of rain as close as Glenwood City, Wis., and a tornado was reported on the ground between Ellsworth and Menomonie. But the worst of the storm stayed mainly south of Barron County, according to the National Weather Service.

At least one death was reported – a man who drove into a flooded creek in eastern St. Croix County, where a state of emergency was reported.

The storm isolated at least one person who works in Barron. Assistant District Attorney John O’Boyle, who lives near River Falls, said more than eight inches of rain washed out his driveway and kept him stranded throughout the day Monday, June 29.

However, only minor flooding was reported on Barron County roads the night of Sunday-Monday, June 28-29, 2020, according to Mike Judy, director of emergency services.

“A tornado watch or warning was not issued for Barron County - we were only issued severe thunderstorm warning,” Judy said in an email Monday, June 28.”

At about midnight Sunday, June 28, a flash flood watch was issued for Barron County, but it expired at 7 a.m. Monday, according to county dispatch logs.

By 8 a.m. Monday, 14 volunteer observers around the county reported rainfall totals ranging from just over two inches (near Barronett) to four and one-half inches (at two locations in the town of Sioux Creek near New Auburn).

At Pine Crest Golf Course, Dallas, owners Chad and Karla Knutson measured four and one-half inches in their rain gauge, and they closed the course Monday morning after high water inundated parts of the course and surrounded several greens.

“We had two rain events that cancelled golf in 2014,” Karla Knutson said June 29. “But … this is the worst (rain event) we have had. The cart paths are completely washed out – more than they have ever been in the 10 years we have been here.”

If the forecast for today, July 1, is accurate, Barron County should come through the latest rain event without too many concerns, according to Judy.

“We still don’t foresee any major flooding concerns,” he said.

Drivers should still exercise caution, Judy added.

“Anytime a high-water hazard is involved, we always remind drivers to avoid driving through deep water that’s crossing the road, as even a small amount of fast-moving water can carry away a vehicle,” Judy said.

The forecast calls for hot and dry weather the rest of the week, through the Fourth of July weekend.

Oddly enough, as things dry out, Barron County will once again face a fire danger, mainly because of the thousands of downed trees and limbs from a windstorm that struck the county almost a year ago – July 19, 2019.

“Recent rain does not mitigate the risk of wildfires,” Judy said.

“When the moisture from this storm evaporates, the downed trees will continue to dry out and present a wildfire danger again. We will maintain this high fire hazard for many years to come, especially starting next spring.”