RICHLAND CENTER, Wis. -

Officials with the city of Richland Center and Richland County have declared a state of emergency Thursday.

Richland County emergency management said areas of the county have been affected by nine inches of rain in the last 24 hours, and the floodwaters are rising fast.

Travel in the county could become dangerous later in the day, emergency officials said. Businesses were encouraged Thursday to send employees home while there are still some passable roads.

A shelter is open at the Richland Center Community and Senior Center at 1050 North Orange St., according to a release.

Schools in Richland Center, Hillsboro and Weston were closed Thursday because of flooding in the area and other schools opened late.

Numerous highways are closed in northwest Richland County due to flooding. The Wisconsin Department of Transportation reported that Highway 56 was closed at Highway 131 in both directions. The Richland County Sheriff's Department said Highway 80 north of Richland Center is also closed. Drivers will need to find alternate routes with more rain expected in the area Thursday.

Nine of 16 townships in Richland County have reported damaged to roads, officials said.

"A stationary front in central Wisconsin is responsible for heavy rain northwest of Madison," WISC-TV meteorologist Haddie McLean said.  "Doppler radar and observations show that 4-8 inches of rain has fallen since Wednesday morning.  Flooding is already occurring and more rain is expected."

McLean said the problems aren't over yet. "Showers and thunderstorms will continue (Thursday) and Friday until the stationary front finally sinks southward into northern Illinois," said McLean. "An additional 1-2 inches of rain is possible through Friday night."

The National Weather Service also said that Wisconsin Highway 35 from Prairie du Chien to DeSoto was closed due to multiple mudslides.

In Adams County, County Road G between Highway 23 to County Road P is washed out and it's not known when it will reopen.

Emergency management officials advised against travel in Clark County where more than 60 roads are closed. Clark County officials declared a state of emergency Wednesday night.

Clark County officials said there are 100 roads that were either flooded or washed out.

Officials in Columbia County said Highway 127 is closed between Portage and Wisconsin Dells for water over the road.

Motorists planning to travel through Richland, Sauk, Vernon or Crawford counties Thursday should call 511 for road reports, Iowa County Emergency Management said.

In Richland County, anyone with life safety issues is advised to call 911. Anyone with questions or concerns regarding flooding should call:

  • To report road issues or to obtain alternative routes: 608-649-5766
  • Damage assessment: 608-649-5767
  • Public health: 608-649-5752