Heavy Rain Closes Milwaukee Airport and Causes Sinkhole

Severe thunderstorms swept over Milwaukee, Wisconsin Thursday night and into Friday morning, causing severe flooding, flight delays and a 20 feet deep sinkhole.

The Milwaukee area received up to 7.5 inches of rain in just two hours. The heavy rain flooded Mitchell International Airport runways, causing the airport to close until 1:00 p.m. CST, when one runway was reopened.

Storms are expected to continue through Friday and into Saturday morning, meaning more flooding could occur and more flight delays possible.

The storms also caused a giant sinkhole to open up at a Milwaukee intersection, swallowing up a Cadillac Escalade. The sinkhole is estimated to be about 20 feet deep and 15 feet wide. The driver of the Escalade was taken to a local hospital. His name and condition haven’t been released.

Governor Jim Doyle has declared a state of emergency in Milwaukee County because of the extensive damage the flooding has caused throughout the county.

Milwaukee police handled 500 weather-related calls throughout Thursday night, Milwaukee Police Chief Ed Flynn said at a news conference Friday. Flynn said officers also evacuated about 100 people from a flooded Country Inn & Suites hotel.

Two people were struck by lightning, according to Milwaukee Fire Chief Mark Rohlfing. They were taken to St. Luke’s Medical Center, but there was no word on their conditions.

32,000 We Energies customers lost power in Thursday’s storms and more than 8,000 remained without service Friday.

State emergency management spokeswoman Lori Getter estimated at least half a dozen tornadoes may have touched down in the state.

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