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Quick Warm Up May Cause Flooding

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Numerous winter storms have covered most of South Dakota in snow and ice. But some towns got hit harder than others. Watertown is one of those towns, and with several inches of snow still on the ground in some areas, city officials are a little worried about how the sudden warm temperatures may affect the city.

Watertown still has a substantial amount of snow on the ground, and the temperature sits at a ‘balmy’ 21 degrees. But with the snap of Mother Nature's finger temperatures are going to rise over the weekend and all of this snow is going to melt. And it has city officials wondering where is all that water going to go?

“We have a considerable amount of snow here in the Watertown area and to the north of Watertown up in the Big Sioux River Water Shed,” said James Sutton, Director of Codington County Emergency Management.

All that snow is about to melt, fast, and it’s all going one place.

“We are going to start to see an inflow of water into Lake Kampeska and we will see the water levels come up,” said Sutton.

  He also said the weekend’s warm up will cause a lot of water to flow from the northern parts of the Big Sioux, down to the lake. And it could cause some problems.

“I believe that we will probably see some low land flooding because of the rapid melt,” said Sutton.

He said the lake’s water level may be close to 2 feet below the normal level, as well as the inlet the Big Sioux Flows in to. But with the temperatures climbing 40 degrees in just five days, it’s going to fill up fast. And with no way to tell just how fast and how much it may flood, he’s already starting to watch the Big Sioux very carefully.

“I make trips daily, if not twice a day to the river to monitor the runoff,” said Sutton.

But Sutton said watching the river rise and spill over is something he and the residents of Watertown have to deal with on an annual basis. So he said he hopes everyone is prepared for whatever happens when the spring like weather finally arrives.

Sutton also said the city is prepared if water levels were to rise more than expected. He says they have plenty of sandbags prepared and on hand.

City officials said as the snow and ice begins to melt they ask residents to watch the water levels around their homes. They said if you see the water rising at an alarming rate to call Codington County Emergency Management.
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