This week’s rain and snowmelt have kept city and county road and street crews very busy.
“The localized flooding is the main issue,” Eau Claire County Highway Commissioner Jon Johnson said Thursday.
“If you can’t get the flooded spots cleaned up, then you get frozen spots when the temperatures get colder,” he said.
Crews have been breaking up ice on the sides of roads and using graders where there’s ponding to get water flowing, Johnson said.
“We’ve got (flooded) spots popping up quite a bit,” he said. “The eastern part of the county is a little worse.”
Recent snowfalls have been a bit heavier in the Augusta area. That has led to more drifting and snow at the edges of roads in that area, Johnson said.
Flooding has not resulted in any road closures in Eau Claire County, he said.
“The worst areas have about two inches of water across the road, and we’ve been using warning lights and signage in those areas,” Johnson said. “But there’s not been enough water to stall a car out.”
In the city of Eau Claire, as many as 50 employees a day have been devoting their time this week to clearing snow and ice from storm sewer catch basins to prevent water from ponding on streets, Eau Claire’s streets maintenance manager Steven Thompson said.
“We have been putting in 15-hour days to clear the catch basins, and we have been able to stay ahead of it,” he said.
City crews annually clear ice and snow from storm sewer catch basins, but this winter has been exceptional, Thompson said.
“It’s always something we’ve had to do but not with the resources and staff we’ve used the last four days,” he said.
City crews have used steamers, end loaders and skid steers to clear the catch basins. Pick axes and shovels have also been used by some employees, Thompson said.
“It’s good exercise. I was doing it (Wednesday),” he said.
If he could pick his weather for the next several days, Johnson would shoot for cloudy skies and highs in the mid to upper 30s.
“A slow melt is the best,” he said.
Besides flooded streets and roads, the rain and snowmelt have also caused a problem with potholes.
County crews are tending to potholes when they can, Johnson said.
“It’s real bad,” he said. “Unfortunately, we’ve not been able to get to that because of the flooding.”
With the rain out of the way, Thompson will put more city employees on pothole duty today than there were on the rainy days of Wednesday and Thursday.
“When it’s raining, the water gets in there and blows the (patching) material right back out,” he said.
Following last weekend’s snowstorm, the National Weather Service was predicting 1.25 inches of rain to fall in Eau Claire between Tuesday and Thursday, said Alexandra Keclik, a meteorologist with the agency’s office in Chanhassen, Minn.
As of noon Thursday, 0.82 of an inch of rain had fallen in Eau Claire this week, she said.
The weekend appears to have minimal chances for precipitation with highs in the mid to upper 30s, Keclik said.