The National Weather Service in Tulsa has issued flood warnings for the Illinois River affecting Adair, Delaware, and Cherokee Counties Tuesday night through Thursday night.
“Runoff from rainfall occurring last evening will push Illinois River water levels to minor flood stage over the course of the next 24 hours,” said Ed Fite, GRDA vice president of water quality.
The flood warning for the river near Watts is effective from 11 p.m. Tuesday until 9 a.m. Wednesday.
At 1:30 p.m. Tuesday, the stage was 11.3 feet; the flood stage is 13.0 feet. Minor flooding is forecast. The river at Watts is expected to rise above flood stage late Tuesday evening to a crest of 13.1 feet just after midnight. It will then begin falling below the flood stage.
At 13.0 feet, minor flooding occurs from the Arkansas border to near Fidler`s Bend.
Beginning 6 a.m. Wednesday until 10 p.m. Thursday, the flood warning is active for the Illinois River near Tahlequah. At 1:30 p.m. Tuesday, the stage was 8.0 feet; the flood stage is 11.0 feet. Minor flooding is forecast. Near Tahlequah, the river is expected to rise above flood stage Wednesday morning to a crest of 12.2 feet Wednesday evening. It will then fall below flood stage Thursday afternoon, according to NWS.
At 12.0 feet, minor flooding occurs from near Hanging Rock downstream toward Tahlequah, but Fite said the State Highway 10 corridor and Combs Bridge area will not be impacted by floodwaters and should remain open to traffic.
The projected crests at gauges in the area are:
• Watts gauge, U.S. 59 Bridge, Illinois River, 13.1 feet, crest midnight Tuesday, minor flood stage.
• Chewey gauge, Hampton Bridge, Illinois River, 11.2 feet, crest Wednesday morning, upper limit of action stage.
• Tahlequah gauge, U.S. 62 Bridge, Illinois River, 12.2 feet, crest Wednesday evening, minor flood stage.
• Eldon gauge, Barren Fork Creek, S.H. 51 Bridge, 11.17 feet, crest Tuesday morning at a level below minor flood stage.
• Kansas gauge, Flint Creek, U.S. 412 Bridge, 7.4 feet, crest Tuesday evening at a level below action stage.
As of Tuesday at 4:15 p.m., the gauge readings were: Watts, 11.89 feet; Chewey, 8.43 feet; Moodys, 8.33 feet; Tahlequah, 8.14 feet; Eldon, 10.38 feet; and Kansas, 7.05 feet.
Extreme turbulence will make the river too hazardous for floating, swimming, and wading.