Recent rain makes for dangerous river conditions in southeast Wisconsin

Posted at 12:35 PM, May 15, 2018
and last updated 2018-05-15 16:03:20-04

OZAUKEE COUNTY -- The rainfall in our area was much needed after a dry March and April. But after having high fire risks across much of the state, some areas have more danger now on the water.

In Ozaukee County, three men were rescued after their boats capsized on the Milwaukee River. The rains lead to higher river levels, making for dangerous conditions. 

"For a number of days after a large rainfall, we can see a pretty big increase in river levels," Scott Ziegler, Director of Emergency Management at the Ozaukee County Sheriff's Department said. "It can make it a lot more treacherous if you're inexperienced or ill-equipped."

The rest of the week should be relatively quiet but it doesn't mean the river will be too. The Grafton Fire Department suggests staying off the river until levels go down. 

"You can tell if it's a lazy flowing river or if it's swollen from rainfalls," Ziegler said. "You'll see rapids conditions in areas you wouldn't normally see them."

Ziegler says wearing a life jacket is of the utmost importance. However, in a wild river, it may not be the only thing you need to keep you safe. 

"Try to orient yourself so your feet first with the flow so you can see where you're going," Ziegler said. "If you're coming up to any rocks or obstructions, you can push yourself off that a little bit."

Ozaukee County Emergency Management posts links to current river conditions on their website,  so you can be safe before getting out on the water. 

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