Flood UpdateApril 20th, 2013 at 1:08 pm by Bill Steffen under Bill's Blog, News, Weather
1:30 AM – Picture is aerial view of the RR bridge south of the S-Curve. The water is up to the tracks and they have parked a train over the bridge to weigh down the bridge. The river level in Grand Rapids downtown is at 21.6 feet as I write this, up from 21.4 feet at 8 PM. The river will crest late Sunday around 22.5 feet – a modern record. The river is flowing at the rate of 34, 150 cubic feet per second (it reached 50,000 cfs during the flood of 1904, when the river covered the entire west side of the city all the way to John Ball Park!). There is now 6.2 times the average volume of water passing thru G.R. The river is walled and confined to a fixed channel downtown. To that the increased volume of water thru the restricted area, the river speeds up, so the flow rate is very fast where the river is narrow. At Comstock Park, the river is estimated to be around 17.7 feet (the gauge is underwater) and will rise to a new record 18 feet Sunday afternoon. Water covers Riverside Park and the entrance is sandbagged to keep the water from coming out on Monroe Ave. The river at Ionia is down 3″ since crest at midday Sat. and fell an inch from 7:45 to 11:45 pm Sat. Upstream the river level at Portland fell 2″ Saturday PM and evening. At Lowell, the river rose an inch from 4 PM to 8 PM to 18.9 feet and should crest early Sunday around 19.2 feet, a new record. In Ada, the reading was 22.8 feet Sat. evening. The river crest of 23.1 feet will occur around midday today, also a new record level. Hundreds of parking places are covered with water at Amway when the river gets this high. The crest will move thru Ottawa County on Monday. Robinson Twp. is at 16.9 feet and may rise to 17.4 feet.
The Rogue is falling slowly, now down 6″ from crest in Rockford. The Thornapple has dropped 2 inches at Caledonia, where the Sat. evening reading of 11.3 feet was 1.3 feet over flood stage. At Hastings, the river down 1/2″ Saturday evening, down about 1 1/2″ from crest, but still 1.6 feet over flood stage. The Muskegon River at Croton was at 10.2 feet and holding steady. Crest occurred at 11.11 feet, well below the 16.8 feet that was reached in the great flood of 1986. The Kalamazoo River at New Richmond is falling at 17.9 feet, still above the flood stage of 17 feet. The river crested there at 18.49 feet.
Sat. afternoon update: Plaza Towers has been evacuated (nearly 1,000 people – it made national news on NPR). There was a minor fire as water rose into the basement area Sat. morning. Guests and residents were evacuated thru the skyway to the Marriott and Amway Hotels. They are pumping water out of the parking area at the Marriot and water is being pumped out of several other buildings downtown inc. the Amwayand Marriott hotels. The Jackson St. bridge is closed in Lowell, M-21 is closed east of Lowell. Lowell is “open from the north and south”, but tough to get thru going east/west. Gawkers were urged to stay out of the Lowell area. The dams on the area rivers, inc. the bigger ones on the Muskegon River are not meant to hold floodwaters, but Consumers Energy is managing the dams to minimize the flow as best they can. Picture is the Grand River just south of the S-Curve. Water has reached the rails. They have had a train parked on the bridge to weigh down the bridge.
The Sunday European model rainfall forecast for Tuesday PM/Night: 0.74″ Grand Rapids, 0.44″ Lansing, 0.44″ Jackson, 0.91″ Muskegon, 0.58″ Kalamazoo. The crest on the Grand River will be past Grand Haven by the time this rain moves in. While smaller creeks and rivers will come up a bit, it’ll be nowhere near what we have already had. This will slow the fall on major rivers, but it’ll the worst will have past and a gradual fall will continue thru the week. The GFS model has 0.34″ of rain for G.R. on Tuesday.
Anyone notice how cold it was Saturday. The high for G.R. was 38 (avg. high 60) and for Kalamazoo 40 (avg. high 62). I’ve looked at long-range models (European weeklies, CFS, IRI, Japanese) and they continue to keep temperatures a little cooler than average into May over the Great Lakes. None of the models have the heat ridge over the Great Lakes during the summer. The heat ridge varies on the models from the Rockies to the Central Plains. It’s not saying much, but this July should be cooler, maybe significantly cooler than last July. August last year had average temperatures. There’s still a little bit of ice in Green Bay. The low temperature was ZERO Sat. morning at Wakefield in the U.P. and +5 at Ironwood. Snow depths Sat. AM: 50″ Hoist Basin, 40″ Twin Lakes (looks like more than that at the link), 35″ Marquette Airport, 32″ 10 miles S. of Grand Marais, 26″ Munising, 18″ Ironwood and Paradise, 16″ Newberry, 9″ Sault Ste. Marie, 1″ Gaylord and Lake City.