A stationary low-pressure system to the south should keep continual heavy rains aimed at Texas and Oklahoma this week while Manhattan dries with seasonal temperatures and southerly winds, said Mary Knapp, K-State climatologist.
There will be a chance of severe thunderstorms in Manhattan Tuesday night into Wednesday.
Last month for Manhattan was the second-wettest May in history at 14.12 inches, nearly triple the average of 5.09. The most rain recorded here in a May was 14.73 inches in 1994.
“The main difference between now and (the historic flooding of) 1993 was that when we were getting those record rains (17.56 inches in July), the entire upper Midwest was getting drenched, too, 5 inches a time over a swath of entire states,” Knapp said Saturday. “This year, since their big flood event in March, Nebraska has been relatively dry.”
Rains in Nebraska dump into the the headwaters of the Big Blue River and its tributaries, which empties into Tuttle Creek Lake. Although that river is 18.26 feet, just above the 18-foot flood stage at Beatrice, 90 miles north of Manhattan, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is keeping up with inflow with a greater outflow at the Tuttle Creek Dam, Knapp said.
“Another good thing for us is the Kansas (River) can take it (outflow) from the Big Blue,” she said. “The Kansas is falling as are the Republican and Smoky Hill due to releases at Kanapolis Dam, which is at 60 percent capacity,” Knapp said. Kanapolis Dam is 40 miles southwest of Salina.
But it won’t be bone dry this week. It’s spring, after all. According to the national Storm Prediction Center, Oklahoma is predicted to get another 7 inches of rain, southern Kansas/northern Oklahoma could get up to 3.5 inches. Manhattan is predicted to have between an inch and 1.5 inches, Manhattan to Lincoln, Neb. could have a half-inch, and north of Lincoln might get up to a quarter-inch.
“But you have to keep an eye on that (stationary low) front,” Knapp said. “It could pick up and move or just stagnate there. And there could be popup storms here or there Monday.”
The month of June is predicted to be on the wetter side, Knapp said.
“We don’t need super-heavy rain for there to be problems,” Knapp said. “The ground is so saturated a half-inch could produce a lot of runoff.”
The flood warning for the Kansas River at Manhattan was cancelled Saturday evening after water fell about an inch a day since Friday. It was 17.56 feet at 7 p.m. Saturday, 0.44 feet below the flood stage of 18 feet.
The warning continues, however, for the Big Blue, which was at 22.1 feet, 3.1 inches above the flood stage of 19 feet, at the Manhattan gauge just before it empties into the Kansas. Near there, the water was only feet from the bottom of the old train bridge south of U.S. 24, drawing onlookers off the highway to gawk at the sight on the Manhattan River Trail, which was submerged at the bridge Saturday.
It’s expected to crest at 22.3 feet early Wednesday morning, then recede, according to the NWS.
North of the K-177 bridge Saturday, amalgamations of wood, limbs, branches and other flotsam resembled huge rafts running in the middle of the swift current. On the west bank, encampments appeared abandoned, leaving behind tents, shopping carts and other refuse just yards from the water's edge.
Also, the Big Blue was flooding Saturday near Blue Rapids, affecting Marshall County, while Fancy Creek near Randolph was flooding.
In addition, the Black Vermillion River at Frankfort was at 28.8 feet at 8:30 p.m., 9.9 inches above the flood stage of 19, affecting Marshall County.
Minor flooding was forecast from the Republican River at Clay Center, which was at 17.5 feet Saturday night, 2.5 inches above the 15-foot flood stage. At 15 feet, lowland agricultural flooding occurs from U.S. 24 to Milford Lake, the NWS says. This warning expires late Sunday night.
The NWS reminds motorists not to drive into floodwaters, as shallow, flowing water just 6 inches deep can float or sweep a vehicle off the roadway. Also, the roadbed may be washed out underneath, invisible to the eye.