Water levels may have peaked

Published 8:08 am Friday, March 12, 2010

Flood alerts and a watch have been issued around Austin, but area officials said most of Austin’s rivers and creeks peaked by Friday morning.

“We lost a lot of snow cover yesterday, which is why we saw the rise,” said Austin Police Department Lt. John Mueller.

Rising water levels have largely been caused by melting snow, not rain, Mueller said.

According to Mueller, Dobbins Creek is currently under a flood watch. The police department has notified businesses and residences along the creek of the situation, but Mueller said no issues are expected. A warning is the most serious threat level, followed by a watch then an alert.

A flood alert has been issued for Turtle Creek, which means deputies are checking the water levels hourly. Mueller said water levels at Turtle Creek were steady early Friday.

An alert was also issued at the Sewage Treatment Plant, where there was a slight rise in water levels, but Mueller didn’t anticipate the alert would be upgraded to a watch.

The Cedar River is under a flood alert at Ramsey Golf Course, but water levels are believed to have peaked.

The police department often watches areas north of Austin like Hollandale, because water flowing from the north often leads to flooding in Austin. Unless the area is hit with heavy rains, Mueller didn’t anticipate there will be any flooding issues.

The National Weather Service observes waterways that regularly flood.

The Winnebago River at Mason City, Iowa, will reach 10.69 feet at noon Sunday, above the flood stage level of 7 feet. Mason City is bracing for flooding.

The Albert Lea area mostly is at the start of rivers and creeks — Shell Rock, Blue Earth, Big Cobb, Le Sueur, Lime, Turtle.

The National Weather Service doesn’t display a gauge for the Shell Rock River until it reaches Shell Rock, Iowa, where it is expected to crest at 13.7 feet Sunday afternoon. Flood stage is 12 feet.

—Tim Engstrom contributed to this report