2018 flood named “200-500 year storm” by National Weather Service

“This is by far the worst one we had. There are some homes that are obviously still destroyed, we see the one in Coon Valley sitting there with a garage wall missing,” explained Brandon Larson, Emergency Management Director for Vernon County.

Vernon County is one of several counties that has spent a year picking up the pieces of a storm that only needed a few hours to leave its mark.

“We’re talking rainfall rates where some places got 8-12 inches of rain,” explained Jeff Boyne, Meteorologist for the National Weather in La Crosse.

He calculated that a storm this severe happens once every 200-500 years. But all the pieces aligned last year, high moisture content in the air, a stalled out front over the area, and weak steering winds, contributed to the record-breaking floods.

“It’s very rare to see that amount of rain in that amount of time,” added Boyne.

Those three elements made the storm powerful, and slow moving.

“So if this front was able to just move this way, there wouldn’t be a problem. The problem was the tail end of that front became stationary.”

So storm after storm went through that stationary pocket over Western Wisconsin, and spreading throughout the heart of the state.

Brandon Larson, Emergency Management Director for Vernon County was in the heart of that pocket of storms.

“We had probably over 700 phone calls, 700 reports of damages, and I know there were more than that, some people just didn’t call.”

He has seen storms this severe happening more frequently, and those in the area are expecting them.

“They’re getting used to it. It’s hard to say, but they just deal with it and it goes back down.”

As the area continues to rebuild, Larson is looking to use the storm as a way to prepare for the future, as he believes there will be more to come.

“There’s a few things that we’ve already improved on to make things better in the future. I hate to say when but when it happens.”

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