Blystone's employee Cole Pulver spreads gravel Wednesday over an icy driveway on Blackhawk Road in the town of Caledonia. As the Wisconsin River's level rises, authorities urge people to pick up sandbags and prepare for possible flooding.

Columbia County Emergency Management Coordinator Kathy Johnson says it’s common for river levels to drastically rise in a short period of time near the outset of spring.

Rain and melting ice this week have caused a rise in river levels and increased the risk of flooding for early next week.

The Wisconsin River levels rose to 14.19 feet by 4 p.m. Wednesday, according to the National Weather Service. The agency projected the river levels to crest around 17.2 feet by Monday.

Minor flood stage for the Wisconsin River begins at 17 feet.

The National Weather Services predicts river levels will steadily decline to about 16 feet by March 20.

A Columbia County Emergency Management press release said some local rivers — such as the Wisconsin and Baraboo rivers — could reach minor or near moderate flood stages by Monday.

The Wisconsin River could reach 17.5 feet and the Baraboo River could rise to 21.8 feet by Monday, according to the release. Both rivers would be just below moderate flood stages, if those predictions hold true.

In the release, Johnson’s office urged people to avoid driving on flooded roads and said local authorities will update the public as more information becomes available.

Free sandbags are available for pickup at the Columbia County Highway Shop at 338 West Old Highway 16 in Wyocena. People can call 608-429-1036 with questions.

The city of Portage public works department has free sandbags available for pickup at 616 Washington St. Columbus citizens can contact 920-623-5900 to inquire about getting free sandbags.

Residents must have a vehicle to haul their own sandbags, according to the release.

Authorities said several Portage area roads already are affected by floodwaters, including the Blackhawk Park area, Blackhawk Road, West Lane Road, Old River Road and Lake Road.

Road closures are listed on the county’s website at co.columbia.wi.us.

Follow Brad on Twitter @BradMikeAllen or call him at 608-745-3510.



Portage Daily Register public safety reporter

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