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River Levels Up Following Heavy Rains

May 7, 2012, 4:55 PM by David Brown

River Levels Up Following Heavy Rains

All that rainfall from the weekend is now flowing south into the Big Sioux River.  Water levels from Brookings all the way down to Sioux Falls are on the rise.

The rushing waves are a far cry from the peaceful river we've seen so far this spring.

"Before, you could see rocks and things sticking out of the bottom of the river," Sioux Falls principal engineer Tom Berkland said

This weekend's severe weather dropped several inches of rain in Lake and Moody Counties. Now that water is on its way down to Sioux Falls.

"As far as seeing a fairly widespread heavy rainfall of three inches or more, this is the first one we've seen in at least one year, probably closer to two years," Mike Gillispie with the National Weather Service said.

The levels at 60th Street, just north of the Sioux Falls airport, have risen from nine to 13 feet. That's considered above moderate flood stage, but this diversion channel is easing the situation while construction crews finish work on a nearby dam.

"What they have set up was designed to take a certain amount of flow," Berkland said. "So far, we're seeing less than that flow. We do not anticipate that we will have problems."

Contractors hope to have the dam finished later this month, so water can start flowing through the city instead of around it. But eroding concrete is delaying the project by a couple of weeks.

"The lower part of the channel is pretty much filled up with several feet of water coming through here," Berkland said.

While there's no telling when the next heavy rain will arrive, officials believe this weekend's storms will remind residents near the Big Sioux that flood season is here.

"This is a good wakeup call for everybody," Gillispie said.

As far as flooding concerns, officials say urban areas of Sioux Falls won't really see anything. The main issues will be in rural and farmland areas between here and towns like Brandon and Renner. However, the National Weather Service believes, barring any new storm systems, the levels should be back to normal in about two or three days.

Monitor the latest river levels on the National Weather Service's Hydrologic Prediction website.  Click on the forecast tab to see the forecasted crests.

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