CLINTON — A flood warning, issued Thursday, will remain in effect for the Clinton and surrounding area through at least the end of the weekend.
Torrential rains this week in northern Iowa, Minnesota and Wisconsin, have increased water flow in the Mississippi River drastically, raising the river level from around 14 feet to 16 feet at the Camanche gauge station in just two days.
Because of that increase, the Clinton Engineering Department and Clinton Water Quality Control made the decision Friday morning to install the flood gates at the Ninth Avenue North levee station in Clinton.
“We put the gates in at 16.5 feet to keep water out of the dugout at the LumberKing’s stadium,” Clinton Engineer Jason Craft said. “It went from 14 something, to 16 something in about a day, and if the predictions get over 18 feet and we don’t have the gates in, it can get pretty messy down there.”
Although the predictions had dropped to just more than 17 feet by late Friday afternoon, Craft didn’t anticipate that prediction to remain as more rainfall is expected over the weekend.
Ideally, he said, the river would hit its expected crest of 17.3 feet by Monday and Tuesday, and begin dropping, adding that was an optimistic declaration.
“The best thing that can happen is it hits 17.3 and starts going back down,” he said. “But if there’s a bunch of rain north of here, it’s not going to go down. This is just a prediction based on the National Weather Service.”
That prediction came after a combined 3.43 inches of rain that fell between Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday, according to Clinton County’s National Weather Service observer Jim Blaess. From midnight Thursday to midnight Friday alone, 2.86 inches of rain fell.
Going into this week, the month of June had only recorded 1.35 inches of rain.
“We were way behind for the month and then we got the 3.43 and now we’re up to 4.78 for the month,” Blaess said. “Normal is 4.37 and we’ve still got 10 days to go.”
Showers and thunderstorms are expected to move into the area today, according to NWS predictions, but the result cannot be determined until the storms arrive.
If the storms produce heavy amounts of rainfall comparable to this week’s storm systems, Craft expects it could be a while longer before the flood gates are removed and people are granted access through the Ninth Avenue North levee.
“Trust me nobody wants to be on that river,” he said. “When the gates are in, we certainly are in no authority to tell anyone when they can and cannot go on the river, but I think everyone’s opinion around here is that when those gates go in, it’s best to just stay off the river.”