Wisconsin hit by tornadoes, widespread flooding
MILWAUKEE — Weary travelers who were stranded overnight at a Milwaukee airport began flying out Friday afternoon, one day after powerful storms pounded southeastern Wisconsin and caused widespread flooding that grounded all flights.
Both commercial runways at Mitchell International Airport were covered with water Friday morning. Crews reopened one runway about 1 p.m. and continued to work on the other, airport spokesman Ryan McAdams said.
The worst might not be over. Southern Wisconsin was expected to face another night of flooding and winds Friday, with the National Weather Service forecasting as much as 5 inches of rain in some areas. Storms were expected to start clearing up tonight.
Almost 8 inches of rain poured down in just two hours Thursday evening, snarling traffic in and around Milwaukee and causing widespread power outages.
A giant sinkhole in downtown Milwaukee swallowed a sport utility vehicle. Witnesses estimated the hole was about 20 feet deep and 15 feet wide.
Towing-company owner Mark Pawlik helped rescue the driver from the hole.
It “just went wham!” Pawlik, 46, told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. “Everything went down.”
The driver was taken to a hospital, where his condition wasn’t immediately available.
Milwaukee police handled 500 weather-related calls throughout the night, Chief Ed Flynn said, including one where officers evacuated about 100 people from a flooded Country Inn & Suites hotel.
In a separate incident, two people were struck by lightning and hospitalized, Milwaukee Fire Chief Mark Rohlfing said.
Aurora St. Luke’s Medical Center spokeswoman Myrle Croasdale told the Journal Sentinel that Stephanie Boyce, 30, was listed in good condition Friday night but that her sister, Mary Boyce, 25, was in critical condition.
The National Weather Service reported tornado touchdowns, but there were no immediate reports of property damage or injuries.
State emergency-management spokeswoman Lori Getter estimated at least half a dozen tornadoes may have touched down in the state.
A sinkhole in downtown Milwaukee that was estimated to be about 20 feet deep and 15 feet wide swallowed an SUV. Southern Wisconsin was hit by powerful storms Friday. The SUV driver was rescued from the hole and hospitalized.