Traverse City Record-Eagle

April 18, 2013

Flood watch issued for northern Michigan

BY MICHAEL WALTON and GLENN PUIT
Traverse City Record-Eagle

---- — TRAVERSE CITY — A flood watch is in effect for all of northern Michigan through Saturday, prompting local officials to keep a close eye on water levels at area rivers.

Forecasters expect two to four inches of rainfall in the Grand Traverse region.

“(The rain,) in conjunction with high river levels already existing and continuing snowmelts, could lead to flooding,” said Andy Sullivan, a National Weather Service meteorologist in Gaylord.

The wet weather coincides with what’s already been a wet start to April. The Grand Traverse area has experienced two to three times the average amount of precipitation in the first half of the month, Sullivan said. Areas further east, like Alpena, have seen precipitation levels almost four times higher than average.

Kalkaska County Emergency Management Director Mark Laskowski said he’ll be keeping a close eye on the Manistee River this weekend given the forecast.

“We don’t have any issues currently,” Laskowski said, adding residents are advised to contact county dispatchers if they encounter flooding at area creeks, rivers, ponds or bodies of water like Rugg Pond.

Last week, the Record-Eagle reported on riverfront homeowners who suspect the spring flooding they’ve observed this year on the Boardman is worse than ever before. They attribute the flooding to the removal of the dam. The residents who made the observations said they plan to sue for damages due to the breach at the dam site.

Others, though, dispute the contention that this year’s flooding is worse than prior years. John Wyrwas said a huge flood in the 1960s “knocked out the Keystone Dam below Beitner.”

A flood in 1991 also sent high waters cutting across his lawn.

“What we are having now is just normal,” Wyrwas said.

This week’s expected precipitation is the result of a storm system moving up from the southwest, which will gather moisture as it clips the Gulf of Mexico.

Rain could turn to snow as temperatures drop Friday night. Forecasters predict temperatures in the high 30s Saturday before things warm back to to the upper 40s and low 50s Sunday.

At least two Traverse City residents welcomed news of more rain ahead.

“I think we need that so much, if you think about how low water levels are,” Leland Wynkoop, 22, said Wednesday as he strolled down Front Street with Hannah Flaugher.

Flaugher, 19, said she walks everywhere, but still loves the rain.

“I’m just going to dance in it,” Flaugher said.