The Latest: Wisconsin governor declares state of emergency

MADISON, Wis. (AP) — The Latest on a powerful storm system moving through the Midwest (all times local):

5 p.m.

Wisconsin Gov. Tony Evers has declared a state of emergency for much of the state as heavy rain and melting snow flood roads, fields and communities.

Evers issued the declaration in an executive order Friday afternoon. The order directs all state agencies to assist with response and recovery and authorizes Maj. General Donald Dunbar to activate Wisconsin National Guard units as he deems necessary.

Flooding has rendered several highways impassable in the state. Rescuers in Fond du Lac had to move residents to higher ground after flooding along the Fond du Lac River. Flooding along the East River in Green Bay has forced some residents to evacuate. Green Bay also closed school Friday.


4:45 p.m.

Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds has signed a disaster proclamation that would allow 15 additional counties in Iowa to be eligible for grant assistance to repair homes and cars and replace food or clothing caused by flash flooding.

Reynolds on Friday added the counties to the list eligible for state help to the 21 counties in northern and western Iowa she included in a disaster proclamation on Thursday.

Reynolds has also activated the state emergency operations center to coordinate the response to flooding and help monitor rapidly-evolving conditions.

The National Weather Service has issued flood warnings for portions of Iowa and says flooding of some roads and fields could continue into early next week.


4:30 p.m.

Two Colorado campers have been found safe after they got caught in a late-winter blizzard that struck the region earlier this week.

Authorities say 20-year-old Michael Lee Gomez and 19-year-old Olivia Megan Schack, both of Arvada, were found Friday west of Boulder.

They had gone camping on Tuesday. The blizzard struck southeast Wyoming and northeast Colorado on Wednesday and Thursday, and the two took refuge in their car.


4 p.m.

Authorities say two tornados and possibly a third touched down in mid-Michigan as a late-winter storm system trekked across the Midwest .

National Weather Service meteorologist Danny Costello says two tornados struck Thursday in Shiawassee County. Homes were reported damaged, while power was knocked out to thousands.

Officials also are looking into a possible touchdown in nearby Genesee County.

No injuries were reported.

Costello says survey teams were out Friday afternoon gathering data on the storm and damage.

The first tornado touched down about 6:45 p.m. Thursday near Corunna. The second touched down at 7:03 p.m. to the southeast around Vernon, about 21 miles (34 kilometers) southwest of Flint. Officials say the second tornado also touched down in nearby Durand about 7:05 p.m.

Lower Michigan also saw severe thunderstorm warnings, watches, flooding, high winds and hail.


3:45 p.m.

Authorities say Iowa has shut down Interstate 29 at the Missouri state line due to flooding.

The Iowa Department of Transportation’s website shows the interstate or parts of it shut down for about 85 miles (136.79 kilometers), from around Missouri Valley to the Missouri state line. Motorists are directed to alternate routes.

Missouri River levels are expected to rise dramatically this weekend with a 1.5-foot rise expected by Saturday in some areas.

Missouri Gov. Mike Parson said in a news release that northwest Missouri is already experiencing significant flooding that’s closing roads and impacting homeowners and farmers.

The governor says the state is working with Nebraska, Kansas and Iowa to prepare detour plans in anticipation of the rising floodwaters closing major roadways.

The Missouri National Guard is temporarily relocating the 139th Airlift Wing’s C-130s from Rosecrans Air National Guard Base in St. Joseph as a precautionary measure.


3:30 p.m.

Omaha Fire Chief Dan Olsen says dozens of people trapped by rising flood waters in Douglas County have been rescued since Thursday, including several first responders in rescue boats that capsized on the Elkhorn River.

That rescue happened late Thursday night near Fremont, when two boats carrying seven rescue crew members capsized while trying to reach a family whose basement walls had collapsed in floodwaters. Nebraska State Patrol helicopters were used to pull the crew members from the frigid water.

Olsen says some were in the water “for an extended period.” The rescued crew members were taken to a Fremont hospital for treatment and are expected to fully recover.

Officials say the family opted to stay in the home.

A major winter storm has prompted flooding in a wide swath of the Midwest.


2:40 p.m.

Thousands of people have been urged to evacuate along eastern Nebraska rivers as a massive late-winter storm has pushed streams and rivers out of their banks throughout the Midwest.

Officials in Omaha, Nebraska, and surrounding communities are asking anyone who lives along the Missouri, Platte and Elkhorn rivers to leave their homes.

In Sarpy County south of Omaha, some 1,200 people along the Missouri area and another 1,400 along the Platte and Elkhorn rivers have been asked to evacuate. In Douglas County, people in about 200 homes along the Platte and Elkhorn have been asked to leave.

Douglas County Commissioner Mary Ann Borgeson says “Things are moving and changing at a rapid pace,” and people need to follow instructions.


12:40 p.m.

The U.S. Coast Guard says all traffic on the Missouri River from about 50 miles south of Omaha, Nebraska, downstream to St. Joseph, Missouri, has been shut down due to the river’s high water levels.

The order came Friday. The Coast Guard and U.S. Army Corps of Engineers also requested all river vessel operators create as little wake as possible between St. Joseph downstream to Kansas City to minimize levee damage.

Officials say the restrictions will be lifted as soon as flooding conditions improve.

The restrictions come as the river reached moderate flood stage at nearly 32 feet on Friday at Omaha, where it’s expected to crest at nearly 34 feet on Monday, according to the National Weather Service. The river is expected to crest at St. Joseph on Tuesday at just over 30 feet. Major flood stage at St. Joseph is 27 feet.


12:15 p.m.

A massive later-winter storm that dropped heavy snow and rain in the Upper Midwest has increased flood worries in the Red River Valley of North Dakota and Minnesota.

The National Weather Service says “significant” snowmelt flooding is likely this spring. The chance the river will reach major flood stage in Fargo, North Dakota, has increased from 50 percent last week to 90 percent now.

The neighboring cities of Fargo and Moorhead, Minnesota, experienced a record flood 10 years ago. The two cities have taken several measures such as home buyouts and levees since then.

The river crested at about 41 feet in 2009. The latest outlook says there’s less than a 10 percent chance of that happening this year. But moderate to major flooding is still expected throughout the basin.


11:45 a.m.

Officials in eastern Nebraska are still evacuating communities around rivers that are spilling their banks in the wake of heavy rains and massive snow melt.

Sarpy County officials urged all residents directly along the Platte and Missouri rivers to evacuate Friday morning as water levels continued to rise. The Sarpy County Sheriff’s Office says the Missouri River levee has been breached south of Bellevue.

Officials also ordered the evacuation Friday morning of Villa Springs, a small lake community near the Platte River and Springfield, just southeast of Omaha.

The city of Valley, just west of Omaha, was put on alert Friday to be ready to evacuate should the Elkhorn River rise more.


11:10 a.m.

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is increasing releases from a dam along the Missouri River in southeastern South Dakota as flooding escalates across the region due to a massive late-winter storm.

The Corps says there is little storage capacity behind the Gavins Point Dam for runoff. That prompted the releases, which could worsen flooding downstream.

But the agency says it’s helping with levee monitoring and other flood response measures.

Releases from the Fort Randall Dam upstream have been stopped to create more capacity behind Gavins Point. No releases from Fort Randall are expected for several days.

The Corps also is working with the National Weather Service to monitor conditions. The weather service has issued flood warnings along the Missouri River and its tributaries from southeastern South Dakota to St. Louis in Missouri.


9:45 a.m.

Snow-swept interstates in the Upper Midwest are slowly starting to reopen following a massive late-winter storm that has also caused flooding in several states.

Interstate 29 between Fargo and the Canadian border in eastern North Dakota is now open to travel. KFGO radio reports that a snow plow driver cleared a path on Interstate 94 in southeastern North Dakota on Thursday for an ambulance that needed to get a patient to a hospital.

State government in South Dakota is also returning to normal as travel conditions improve. Most offices have been closed for the last two days because of bad weather and treacherous travel conditions.

Heavy rain falling atop deeply frozen ground has prompted evacuations along swollen rivers in Wisconsin, Nebraska, South Dakota and Iowa. Meteorologists say the flooding is likely to persist into the weekend in states where frozen ground is preventing rain and snowmelt from soaking into the soil.


7 a.m.

Snow, rain and powerful winds are sweeping across the Upper Midwest.

No travel is advised Friday morning in areas near Fargo, North Dakota, as heavy snow and poor visibility prompted the closure of two interstates.

In South Dakota, schools in Rapid City are closed as authorities dig out from a blizzard. Flooding on the other side of the state prompted officials in Sioux Falls to go door-to-door and evacuate residents from homes.

Flooding has also made several highways in Wisconsin unpassable. In Fond du Lac, rescuers had to move residents to higher ground after flooding on the Fond du Lac River.

Authorities say a tornado swept through mid-Michigan, damaging homes and knocking out power to thousands late Thursday. State police said first-responders say at least 21 homes were damaged, though no injuries have been reported.


12 a.m.

A late-winter storm system continues its trek across the Midwest. It will send rain and snow into Minnesota and Illinois on Friday.

The storm left quickly rising floods in its wake in parts of eastern Nebraska and Iowa that saw residents evacuated from their homes, roads washed out in communities, and farmers worried all the water would drown livestock.

The National Weather Service says the system is expected to move into southern Minnesota and parts of Illinois, including Chicago, on Friday, with rain later turning to snow. But meteorologist Paul Fajman in Omaha says the effects aren’t expected to be as bad as what was seen farther west and south.

A blizzard crippled parts of Wyoming, Colorado and western Nebraska on Wednesday.

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