More Rain Forecast For Waterlogged Oklahoma

Sunday, July 1st 2007, 3:50 pm
By: News On 6

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) _ Another band of thunderstorms tracked across Oklahoma Sunday, dropping more rain into creeks and rivers already swollen from the wettest June in state history.

No injuries were reported as a result of widespread flooding, but roads and highways remained closed across the state.

Some of the worst flooding Sunday was near Bartlesville, where the Caney River was more than 3 feet above flood stage. The river was expected to crest late Sunday at 22.8 feet, nearly 10 feet above flood stage, the Oklahoma Department of Emergency Management reported.

Three people forced from their home about 2 a.m. Sunday were picked up by a rescue boat, while the Dewey Fire Department used a large military truck to pick up a couple from their rural home Sunday afternoon, emergency officials reported.

Shelters were set up at the East Cross United Methodist Church at 820 S Madison Boulevard in Bartlesville and at the Dewey High School Gym.

Portions of ten state highways were closed Sunday, mostly in northeastern sections of Oklahoma, where rain continued to fall, said Terry Angier, a spokeswoman for the Oklahoma Department of Transportation.

``We had between 20 and 25 shut down on Saturday, which is very unusual for a state highway system,'' Angier said. ``We're down to about 10 now, so we're making progress.''

Amtrak's Heartland Flyer passenger rail system between Oklahoma City and Fort Worth was halted Sunday because of flooding problems in north Texas, and passengers were bussed instead, Angier said.

In Lawton, where portions of Interstate 44 were reopened Saturday after being closed for more than 10 hours, residents returned to their homes in two additions on the city's northeast side that were evacuated when Cache Creek flooded its banks.

Damage assessment teams were scheduled to visit the area on Monday to determine the extent of the damage, said Chris Killmer, a spokesman for Comanche County.

Further south, in areas around the Jefferson County town of Waurika, flooding was exacerbated by the release of water from Waurika Lake, which remained at capacity on Sunday.

U.S. Rep. Tom Cole, R-Moore, toured the area and visited with local residents affected by the flooding.

``If you stand up on the dam (at Waurika Lake), you can see hundreds and hundreds of acres that are flooded,'' Cole said. ``There's a lot of agricultural and rural flooding that's going on right now. We went through acres and acres of wheat crops that were lost.

``They've never seen anything like this at the lake before. It's uncharted territory for them.''

In Shawnee and Tecumseh in central Oklahoma, where scores of homes and dozens of businesses sustained flood damage in the last week, a joint federal-state team planned to conduct preliminary damage assessments on Monday.

This June was the wettest on record across Oklahoma, where the average rainfall across the state was 9.08 inches, more than twice the normal amount of 4.26 inches, weather officials reported.

For the first six months of the year, Oklahoma City has recorded the second wettest six-month period on record, with 31.84 inches of rain, said Forrest Mitchell, a forecaster for the National Weather Service in Norman. The normal precipitation for Oklahoma City in one year is 35.85 inches.

Meanwhile, more rain was expected to fall across the state through at least Tuesday as a low-pressure system tracked southwest across the state and mixed with a moist, tropical air mass that's been in place over the state for several days.

``The way it looks now, this low-pressure system will finally be down south of the Red River in Texas by Tuesday night, so for now we are forecasting a dry Fourth of July,'' Mitchell said. ``We do have an opportunity for some thunderstorms on Thursday, but after that we're going with a dry forecast through Saturday.''

Several Oklahoma creeks and rivers are rain swollen and in danger of going over their banks. Below is a list of several local waterways with possible flood dangers.

Bird Creek level at Sperry, click here.

Caney River level at Bartlesville, click here.

Deep Fork River level at Beggs, click here.

Neosho River level at Commerce, click here.

Verdigris River level at Lenapah, click here.

For more flooding information, check out our STORM ZONE web page.