Rainfall over the last couple of days could cause the Kansas River in Lawrence to rise to near-flood levels by Tuesday evening, according to Douglas County Emergency Management.
Jillian Rodrigue, assistant director for the agency, said measurements show that the river continues to rise, nearing its 18-foot flood stage, the level at which the river can flood.
Predictions show the river will reach to within one-tenth of an inch of that mark, topping out at 17.9 inches, by Tuesday night.
Rodrigue and other workers will continue to monitor water levels over the next couple of days, but the area should be spared the heavy rain predicted earlier, said 6News meteorologist Greg Postel.
Lawrence will get a break from the rain Tuesday morning, and although showers should develop by the afternoon, Postel said, they won’t bring anywhere near the up to 6 inches of rain previously forecasted.
Despite the break from the rain, Postel said there’s a lag time between rainfall and rising river waters, so the Kaw could still continue to rise.
A 1 p.m. testing Monday placed the water at about 14 feet. Rodrigue said that even at the current level, some of the low-lying areas near the river could see some minor flooding.
While no homes should be affected by the water rise, Rodrigue urged area residents to take precautions.
“Just be proactive and keep your family safe,” she said, providing the following tips:
• Stay away from the river banks, which can collapse during high water levels.
• Don’t drive through standing water.
• Avoid low-lying areas when possible.
• Monitor the National Weather Service. and LJWorld.com for updates on severe weather.
The last time the Kansas River exceeded 18 feet was in May 2007, when the river crested at slightly more than 20 feet.
Flood watches remain for Douglas and Jefferson counties until Tuesday morning. Parts of Shawnee, Johnson and Leavenworth counties are under flood warnings, with flooding already occurring in some areas.