A high water advisory was issued Friday for the Illinois River Basin.
Illinois River water levels and flows are above normal conditions, said Ed Fite, Grand River Dam Authority vice president for rivers operations and water quality.
The Watts, Chewey And Tahlequah gauge sites were reporting water levels approximately 2 1/2 feet above normal on Friday afternoon.
Water levels and flows will fall slowly over the weekend.
It’s recommended that children and nonswimmers do not float this weekend.
Further, adults lacking strong paddling skills should be paired with experienced paddlers/floaters utilizing rafts, or wait to float when water levels and flows have returned to normal conditions, Fite said.
Consult with the commercial flotation device operation used for the most up-to-date river and weather conditions before launching on a float trip.
The Flint Creek stream gauge was reporting a flow approximately 4 1/2 times faster than normal Friday afternoon. Swimmers and waders should avoid the low-water dam located below the U.S. Highway 412 bridge in southern Delaware County.
“These higher flows can create an undertow below the dam than can trap swimmers and waders in a boil/re-circulating water,” said Fite.
Fite offered some high water considerations.
Floaters, fishermen and swimmers should exercise caution this weekend.
They should wear life preservers, protective footwear and other suitable clothing.
Never swim or boat alone, and stay within sight of companions.
Boaters should inform family members or others what stream reach they are floating and when they plan to return from the trip.
Due to a number of flood events that have occurred since the last float season, floaters should be aware of what is near them. Fallen trees and debris may have accumulated in turns and runs that may pose navigational hazards.
“If in doubt about the stream reach to travel, stop and get out on land to scout a safe pathway to use to float through, around meanders and other areas where debris and fallen trees present strainers that let water pass through, yet will trap and hold a boat or swimmer,” said Fite. “In areas with swift water, portage your boat around navigational hazards.”
Visitors should adhere to COVID-19 guidance from Oklahoma State Department of Health and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention when enjoying Oklahoma Scenic Rivers Areas.
The conditions as of 4:30 p.m. Friday are:
• Watts gauge-U.S. 59 Highway Bridge, 6.30 feet at 2,600 CFS flow/1,700,000 GPM (Normal 485 CFS/218,250 GPM, based 64 years of record).
• Chewey gauge-Hampton Bridge, 6.82 feet at 3,210 CFS flow/1,444,500 GPM.
• Tahlequah gauge-U.S. 62 Highway Bridge, 9.00 feet at 5,190 CFS flow/2,335,500 GPM (Normal 835CFS/375,750 GPM, based on 84 years of record).
• Eldon gauge-Barren Fork Creek/S.H. 51 Highway Bridge, 8.63 feet at 1,240 CFS flow/558,000 GPM (Normal 261 CFS/117,450 GPM, based on 71 years of record).,
• Kansas gauge-Flint Creek/U.S. 412 Highway Bridge, 7.09 feet at 545 CFS flow/245,250 GPM (Normal 114CFS/51,300 GPM, based on 60 years of record).