Clinton Lake breaks record for highest water level; Kansas River expected to flood

photo by: Chris Conde

Floodwaters cover the ground near a park restroom at Clinton Lake on Thursday, May 23, 2019.

After Tuesday night’s heavy rain, Clinton Lake has hit a record elevation of 893.28 feet above sea level.

While it has broken the old record of 892.48 feet, set in 1995, R.J. Harms, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers project manager at Perry and Clinton Lake, said there’s a long way to go before water is released into the Wakarusa River.

“It crossed that mark late Tuesday night after the big rain and the tornado,” Harms said of the record elevation. “Clinton has a long way before it gets at flood control pool. It’s only at 55%.”

However, Perry Lake is at 100% of flood control pool, which is why the Army Corps of Engineers is currently releasing water into the Delaware River, which flows into the Kansas River upstream of Perry. Harms said releases were just matching the inflow. Perry Lake had not gone down since the corps began releasing water at 9 p.m. Sunday. At that time 5,000 cubic feet per second was being released. After Tuesday night’s storm, they upped it to 10,000 cubic feet per second.

A flood warning has been issued for late Friday night through late Saturday night for the Kansas River in Lawrence. It is expected to flood at 18 feet in the lowland areas not protected by the levee on the north side of the river. Burcham Park remains closed because of flooding on the south side of the river, according to the National Weather Service office in Topeka.

Thursday morning the Kansas River at Lawrence was at 16.9 feet.

Since May 1, Lawrence has received 9.27 inches of rain. The normal amount for this time of year is 4.83 inches, bringing the total to 4.44 inches above normal, said Scott Blair, with the National Weather Service in Topeka. However, Blair said that total didn’t include the rain from Tuesday night’s storm.

Because of power outages during Tuesday night’s storm, which included an EF-4 tornado in southern Douglas County, measuring instruments at the Lawrence Municipal Airport were not working, and the rain that night was not included in weather service’s monthly total.

However, the Lawrence weather station on the University of Kansas campus reported 1.27 inches of rain on Tuesday, according to Mary Knapp with the Weather Data Library at Kansas State University.

Slight chances of rain are in the forecast in the coming days, with a 20% chance of thunderstorms Friday night and 40% on Saturday, according to the National Weather Service.


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