July 18, 2008

Storms Leave Trails Drenched and Tattered

By Chris Hubbuch, La Crosse Tribune, Wis.

Jul. 18--Storms this week have left La Crosse nearly 10 1/2 inches ahead of normal precipitation.

The city received 7 inches of rain in June -- including almost 3 inches in a single day. On Wednesday, 2 1/2 inches fell in a couple of hours. The storms this week are the result of a weak frontal system meandering across the region and a "nice ample supply of moist air moving up from the gulf," said Todd Rieck, a National Weather Service meteorologist.

The front is expected to stick around into next week, Rieck said, though it likely will move to the south over the weekend, shifting the focus of heavy rains to Iowa and northern Illinois.

This summer's storms have run roughshod on some area trail systems.

Seven inches of rain over two days washed out culverts on the Oak Ridge Trail, closing two sections of the ATV trail near Black River Falls, Wis. Repairs are expected to take a month.

Near La Crosse, about a dozen volunteers spent two nights last week clearing the Human Powered Trails after winds blew down about 75 trees on July 7. Rain has hindered the construction of new trails, done by volunteers every Thursday evening.

HPT president Dan Luebke said there has been no problem with erosion on the bike and walking trails, which he attributed to construction methods.

"That's why they're the best-built trails in Wisconsin," he said.

Storms have caused minimal damage to the trails in Hixon Forest, said Pat Caffrey, a volunteer with the Myrick-Hixon EcoPark.

Chris Hubbuch can be reached at (608) 791-8217 or [email protected]


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