High water closes campgrounds and roads at area lakes

LYNDON, Kan. – Campers at Osage County lakes this weekend are facing high waters, closed campgrounds and a chance of more rain.

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is urging campers and lake visitors to use caution around flood waters and high lake elevations after a round of nightly storms have saturated the area this week. At Melvern and Pomona lakes, officials have announced several campgrounds are closed due to retained water causing high lake elevations.

At Melvern Lake, campsites closed due to increased lake elevation include Turkey Point, Sites 1 through 26 and site 30; Coeur d’Alene, Sites 11 through 32; Arrow Rock, Sites 6 through 10, 12 through 15, and 35 through 45. Outlet Park is currently not affected. The lake level continues to rise.

At Pomona Lake, the Coon Creek Causeway between Michigan Valley Park and the Quarry area is closed due to high lake elevation. Access to Wolf Creek Park from Michigan Valley is closed. All sites in Michigan Valley A Loop, C Loop, G Loop, and Wigger Group Camp have now been closed due to high lake elevation. As of Wednesday, the pool elevation continued to rise at Pomona Lake.

The campsites are closed through Wednesday, May 15, 2019, although closure extensions are likely. Officials advised that anyone who has rented a campsite that is closed will receive a full refund. The Corps is no longer charging fees at boat ramps at these lakes and several Corps docks have been pulled out of the water.

The local area continues to recover from storms that moved through the area earlier this week, but relief from the rain might not come until Sunday with scattered showers predicted for this afternoon and evening. National Weather Service is forecasting 30 percent chance of showers again Friday evening, and 20 percent chance into Saturday morning and night. Sunday, sunny weather and a high of 68 are expected.

Flooding on the Missouri River this spring has required flood-control lakes to retain water. Since then, the area has received significant amounts of rainfall and lake elevations continue to rise. Waters from Pomona Lake and Melvern Lake run into the Marais des Cygnes River, which is remained at flood stage today at locations downstream.

At Melvern Lake, officials reported the lake continues to hold back water until downstream conditions improve, and with changing conditions and possible future rain events it is unknown when water will be released.

Boaters on the lake are urged to be cautious while on flooded lakes and be aware of potential floating or submerged hazards. In other area Corps lakes, campgrounds, boat ramps, and recreation areas have been closed, gated, or barricaded, but visitors are advised to keep in mind that the high water is constantly changing and impacting new areas. Anyone with plans to visit a lake should double check area conditions.

Motorists are also advised to not drive through water across a road. Only six inches of fast-moving water can knock over a person. It only takes 12 to 18 inches of fast-moving water to carry away most vehicles including large SUVs. If a road is covered with water turn around – you will likely not know the depth of the water or the condition of the road underneath as roadbeds could be washed out. Turn around, don’t drown!

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