As waters continued to rise following massive rainfall, the Tulsa District of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers began releasing even more from the Keystone Dam on Monday morning.
Keystone Lake was 24 feet above normal on Monday at 8 a.m., when 85,000 cubic feet of water per second began rushing through the gates. The Corps increased the rate to 100,000 cfs around 4 p.m. Water continued to be released at a steady 100,000 cfs on Tuesday.
Data shows the last time more than 100,000 cfs was released was 26 years ago, when 117,00 cfs was sent through during flood control operations. It came close to that number in 1998, with 93,000 being released at that time.
The activity has brought many sightseers and families to the dam, who are marveling at what it looks like when the equivalent of one Olympic-sized swimming pool per second barrels downstream.
Hydrologists and engineers with the Corps say it all is a delicate, mathematical balancing act to manage the Upper Arkansas basins, managing inflow from the north at Kaw Lake and avoiding flooding out those along the river in Tulsa — all the way to the Mississippi.
Officials say, as of Tuesday morning, there is no emergency situation and those downstream in Tulsa County don’t need to panic.
Flooding has caused issues for businesses around the lake due to lack of access. Many campgrounds around Keystone and several throughout Green Country also managed by the Corps are expected to remain closed through Memorial Day weekend. You can check the status of those spots on the Corps website at www.swt.usace.army.mil
The City of Cleveland has closed the main entrance to Feyodi Creek because of high water. Officials are hoping it will recede enough to where visitors at least can visit and pay respects at the war memorial monuments next weekend.
If areas are barricaded or have closed signs, do not move them or walk past them, officials say.
Also, when fishing or attempting to boat during high-water situation such as this, be mindful of floating debris, which can damage watercraft or cause injuries.
Some low-lying county roads have water covering them in areas near the lake and river. Do not ever drive into water, no matter how little you believe the risk is. When water is present, danger is, too, authorities say.