Series: Extreme Precipitation And Wisconsin's Climate

Climate change is already beginning to affect Wisconsin in subtle but important ways. As the average global temperature creeps upward, climatologists have projected that the upper Midwest will experience heavier precipitation. This shift means not just a greater volume of water in the form of rain or snow, but also more intense storms happening more frequently. While climate change on its own isn't necessarily the culprit behind a given storm, its effects can intensify existing weather patterns and make long-running climatic cycles more unpredictable. While researchers work to understand how climate change interacts with seasonal cycles like El Niño and how human activities affect the outcome of catastrophic floods, communities across the state face new challenges protecting people, infrastructure and their economy.
 
The issue of too much water in too short a time is contributing to mounting budgetary and, in some cases, existential crises for communities of all sizes around Wisconsin and the United States.
One of the first environmental scientists in northwest Wisconsin to raise concerns about how prepared the region was for more intense flooding is Randy Lehr.
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The issue of transportation funding was at the forefront of Wisconsin's 2019-20 budget cycle. State Department of Transportation Secretary-Designee Craig Thompson discusses local road funding needs and how Wisconsin approaches rebuilding infrastructure after major floods.
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A bipartisan bill in the U.S. Senate would allow municipalities to make road improvements while spending federal aid to rebuild after a disaster. Bayfield County Highway Commissioner Paul Johanik discusses how counties are looking to get ahead of future flooding events.
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While policy debated over climate change and efforts to mitigate flooding continue at the state and federal levels, local residents and officials in Hayward and Sawyer County impacted by washed-out roads and water in their basements are thinking about the next storm.
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What are the challenges several northwest Wisconsin counties face from extreme precipitation? WisContext associate editor Will Cushman and former Northland College professor Randy Lehr discuss the growing costs flooding poses to public infrastructure.
Massive rainstorms hit northwest Wisconsin in 2012, 2016 and 2018, causing tens of millions of dollars in flood damage to public infrastructure. Local officials responsible for rebuilding hope they're able to make improvements to withstand more big storms when they come.
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As Wisconsin sweats in the midst of a July heatwave, a report shows that global warming could lead to a jump in dangerous high summer temperatures in the state. UW Nelson Institute for Climatic Research researcher Michael Notaro discusses the study and what it means.
As recently as 2013, water levels on most of the Great Lakes were very low. But since 2014 the issue has been too much water, not too little.
People often recount the floods in living memory. August 2018 will be remembered for record-breaking floods that brought devastation throughout the Driftless Area.