Media Advisory: Water Levels Surpass Records in Illinois River Basin

Release Date:

Since Saturday morning, parts of eastern Oklahoma received up to 12 inches of rain from Winter Storm Goliath. Water levels at many U.S. Geological Survey gages in that part of the state were already high due to previous rains.

Reporters: Do you want to accompany a USGS field crew as they measure flooding? Please contact Bill Andrews at 405-810-4417.

Since Saturday morning, parts of eastern Oklahoma received up to 12 inches of rain from Winter Storm Goliath. Water levels at many U.S. Geological Survey gages in that part of the state were already high due to previous rains. USGS instruments indicate that the water level at theIllinois River at Tahlequah, Oklahoma, peaked this afternoon at about 30.66 feet. This peak exceeds by several feet the highest previously recorded water level of 27.94 feet on May 10, 1950.

Flooding has been particularly severe in the Illinois River Basin of northeastern Oklahoma, with river stages increasing by about 25 feet to record flood levels at several gages, causing inundation of numerous structures along the river.  Highway 10 along the Illinois River has been closed for about 27 miles between U.S. Highways 62 and 412 due to flood waters covering the road at several locations.

Further north, the Grand River Dam Authority is warning residents downstream of the Pensacola Dam on Grand Lake O’ The Cherokees and downstream of Kerr Dam at Lake Hudson to evacuate.

The USGS Oklahoma Water Science Center has multiple teams of technicians conducting streamflow measurements and checking streamgage performance. USGS Water Science Centers in Kansas, Missouri and Arkansas also have teams in the field measuring flooding in adjoining watersheds.

USGS scientists are collecting critical streamflow data that are vital for protection of life, property and the environment. These data are used by the National Weather Service to develop flood forecasts; the Bureau of Reclamation and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to manage flood control; and local and state emergency management in their flood response activities. More information is available on the USGS Oklahoma Water Science Center website.

There are 188 USGS-operated streamgages in Oklahoma that measure water levels, streamflow and rainfall. Current streamflow conditions are available online.

More detailed information on flooding in Oklahoma is available on the WaterWatch flood page.

For more than 125 years, the USGS has monitored flow in selected streams and rivers across the U.S. The information is routinely used for water supply and management, monitoring floods and droughts, bridge and road design, determination of flood risk and for many recreational activities.

Access current flood and high flow conditions across the country by visiting the USGS WaterWatch website. Receive instant, customized updates about water conditions in your area via text message or email by signing up for USGS WaterAlert