Arkansas River's Low-Water Dam 'A Drowning Machine' - NewsOn6.com - Tulsa, OK - News, Weather, Video and Sports - KOTV.com |

News

Arkansas River's Low-Water Dam 'A Drowning Machine'

Posted: Updated:
At the low-water dam, when water flows over it, some of it pushes back toward the dam and creates suction. At the low-water dam, when water flows over it, some of it pushes back toward the dam and creates suction.
"Water moving at 10 miles an hour has the same force as an F-1 tornado," Tulsa Fire Department Capt. RB Ellis said. "Water moving at 10 miles an hour has the same force as an F-1 tornado," Tulsa Fire Department Capt. RB Ellis said.
TULSA, Oklahoma -

Dangers are not to be underestimated along the low-water dam, an area rescuer says.

Three men were swept away early Thursday near the Arkansas River pedestrian bridge at 31st Street and Riverside Drive.

The fire department identifies the men as Conner Norvell, 20, from Colorado; Troy George, 23, from Louisiana; and Eric Harris, 27, from Tulsa.

They were students at Tulsa Welding School.

The group started hand-fishing at about 3 a.m., but as they worked their way down the river, one of the men disappeared about 5:15 a.m.

08/01/2013 Related Story: Tulsa Fire Department Works To Recover Bodies Of Fishermen

Right away, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers stopped releasing water from Keystone Dam to help with recovery efforts downstream, but no matter how much water is released from the lake the low-water dam is always a dangerous spot."

Conditions on the low-water dam on the Arkansas River are so dangerous, many first responders call it the drowning machine.

"It's a vicious cycle, they just keep going around and around," Tulsa Fire Capt. RB Ellis said.

Ellis, the rescue coordinator, said when three men went under, the water flow had incredible force.

"Water moving at 10 miles an hour has the same force as an F-1 tornado," Ellis said.

At the low-water dam, when water flows over it, some of it pushes back toward the dam.

It creates suction and a circular flow, creating a rolling effect for anything caught in it.

"Even the best swimmers would have a difficult time trying to survive in this environment," Ellis said.

That's why Tulsa requires people to stay 150 feet away from the dam, both upstream and downstream.

"At this point here, their chances would be very slim," Ellis said.

Keystone Lake is already 5 feet above normal, so the Corps had plans to more than double the water released. But the gates were shut to help draw the water down in the river to help search teams.

With runoff from recent rain, the lake will rise a foot each day while the gates are closed.

Once the victims are found, the Corps will release more water than first planned to maintain an appropriate water level in the lake.

Since even more water is going to be released from Keystone Lake once the bodies are recovered, it's going to make conditions along the Arkansas River even more dangerous.

So the Corps is urging people to be extremely cautious along the river, at least for the next few days.

Special Features

Community Calendar

Find out what's going on around town and submit events!

Share

See it! Shoot it! Send it! Share your weather pics and videos with NewsOn6.com!

iPhone App

Get breaking news, weather, sports & video directly on your iPhone.

Mobile Alerts

Get breaking news, headlines, weather alerts & more on your cell phone.

TV Schedule

Need to know what's on TV? Check out our television schedule.

Live Radar

WARN Interactive

Special Coverage

  • Bridge Tracker

    How safe are Oklahoma's bridges? Use Bridge Tracker to find out now.

  • Cold Case

    Join Lori and local homicide detectives as they search for Cold Case clues.

  • Crime Tracker

    Find out what crimes are committed in your area with Crime Tracker.

  • Fallen Heroes

    News On 6 honors our fallen Oklahoma heroes. View our interactive timeline.

  • Murrah Bombing Timeline

    Learn more about the events leading up to and following the bombing.

  • Storm Zone

    Watch tornadoes tear across Oklahoma and learn how to stay safe!

  • Turnpike Timelines

    View a historical road map of Oklahoma's turnpike system.

Powered by WorldNow
News On 6
303 N. Boston Ave.
Tulsa, OK 74103
TULSA'S OWN TM
GREEN COUNTRY'S OWN TM
Oklahoma's Own Newson6.com is proud to provide Oklahomans with timely and relevant news and information, sharing the stories, pictures and loves of Oklahomans across our great state including Tulsa's Own and Green Country's Own.
All content © Copyright 2000 - 2014, WorldNow and KOTV. All Rights Reserved. For more information on this site, please read our Privacy Policy and Terms of Service.