Flood Warning for Ocmuglee River extended through Friday

lfabian@macon.comFebruary 11, 2013 

The Ocmulgee Heritage Trail is closed from Spring Street to the Otis Redding Bridge due to a Flood Warning.

Significant runoff from heavy rains is expected to bring the Ocmlugee River out of its banks with minor flooding.

A Flood Warning has been posted through Friday as the river is expected to go over flood stage of 18 feet and crest at about 19.9 feet by Thursday morning.

As of 1 p.m. Tuesday, the river was 17.59 feet and still rising.

The closure of the popular river walk was in anticipation of flood waters covering the trail, said Chris Floore, spokesman for the City of Macon.

Floore said people are encouraged to follow updates on Twitter through the Macon-Bibb County Emergency Management Agency.

Macon set a new daily rainfall record for Monday with 2.21 inches, which breaks the record of 2.02 set in 1897.

The trail is expected to flood near the Otis Redding Bridge and the lowest sections of Gateway Park will be under water, but no major flooding was expected.

The warning covers Bibb, Jones, Houston, Twiggs and Monroe counties.

Residents in low-lying areas or near streams are urged to monitor weather conditions.

After heavy rains overnight Monday, no flooding problems or closed streets were reported early Tuesday by emergency dispatchers in Bibb and Houston counties.

Trees toppled across Ferguson Street and Red Oak Road early Tuesday.

Moderate to heavy rain Tuesday night into Wednesday morning could add an additional inch of in places that have already seen at least 3 inches since Sunday afternoon.

The National Weather Service also has a flood watch posted through Wednesday afternoon for most of the midstate and parts of north Georgia.

The watch covers the region south of a line from Cedartown to Alpharetta to Athens.

Any flooding would likely result from rising river levels as opposed to continued rainfall on land, said Alex Gibbs, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Peachtree City.

From 1 p.m. Sunday to 1 p.m. Monday, Macon picked up 2.51 inches of rain at Middle Georgia Regional Airport, some of it falling at about a half-inch per hour. Most surrounding counties received 2 to 2 1/2 inches.

Between 1 p.m. Monday and 7 a.m. Tuesday, Macon recorded another 1.28 of an inch of rain at the airport.

At Lake Wildwood, water was flowing over Greentree Parkway at Colaparchee Creek and the lake’s spillway.

Regular detours are set up in the Bibb County gated community.

Late Sunday night, water was standing on Interstate 75 at Pierce Avenue, according to Macon 911 operators who called in the Georgia Department of Transportation. Lightning and thunder were reported in Macon about 4:40 a.m.

The National Weather Service issued a flash flood watch that expired at 1 p.m. Monday for portions of north and Middle Georgia, but no major flooding was reported.

Soil was still moist from recent rains across the region, and much of the heavy rain did not soak in but ran off to creeks, streams and rivers.

No serious flooding problems had been reported to local authorities by Monday evening, though emergency management workers were keeping an eye on the conditions.

“The creeks are swelling and the river is way up,” said Don Graham, emergency management director in Jones County. “We’re keeping our fingers crossed.”

Motorists should use extra caution and never drive across a water-covered road, since the vehicle could be swept away by rushing water.

There’s a 100 percent chance of rain Tuesday night and Wednesday, with the probabilty of rain decreasing to 30 percent by Wednesday night.

Despite all the rain, Middle Georgia remains in an extreme drought. The area would need several more inches of rain -- about three months of above average rainfall -- for the drought to be lifted, the National Weather Service says.

The Macon area received just over 2 inches in January, and 4.24 inches during that month is considered average.

Telegraph staff writers Harold Goodridge and Jenna Mink contributed to this report. To contact writer Liz Fabian, call 744-4303.


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