West Michigan Rivers Rise; Officials Recommend Evacuations

Posted at 10:15 AM, Apr 14, 2014
and last updated 2014-04-14 11:04:36-04

NEWAYGO COUNTY, Mich. (April 14, 2014) — All eyes will be on West Michigan rivers over the next few days as heavy rainfall over the weekend pushes streams out of their banks.

Rainfall totals of three inches or more were common in Newaygo, Muskegon, Oceana, and Mecosta counties as strong storms and prolonged rain moved through in a couple of waves Saturday and Sunday.  With saturated ground and high water already widespread around the region, that rainfall is more than enough to generate flooding.

The above image is a hydrograph for the Muskegon River near the Croton Dam in Newaygo County.  A hydrograph shows past and predicted river levels.  As the image indicates, the river had already pushed above flood stage Sunday, reaching above 11 feet on the gauge by early Monday morning.  This is already higher than the crest of the river during flooding in April 2013.

As runoff continues to flow into area rivers, those levels will continue to rise Monday and Tuesday.  For the Muskegon River, levels are currently forecast to crest above 12 feet Tuesday night and Wednesday.  By comparison, the disastrous flooding of 1986 reached more than 16 feet.

Newaygo County Emergency Services posted on its Facebook page Monday morning: “ALERT – ALL RESIDENCES LIVING ON THE MUSKEGON RIVER NEED TO PREPARE TO EVACUATE NOW. THE RIVER AT THE CROTON RIVER GAUGE IS at 11.39 feet (which is higher than last year) WE COULD SEE 12.4 feet or higher. PLEASE EVACUATE NOW.”

Here is how the National Weather Service describes the impact of floodwaters at the 11-foot level:

Expect moderate flooding of cottages and homes upstream of Newaygo on Salmon Run and Russell Road in Croton Township… the Devils Hole area… and Gardner Drive in Brooks Township. Expect moderate flooding of cottages and homes downstream of Newaygo in the Anderson Flats area… Sugar Bush Lane and Maple Drive… Bell Meadow Drive… and the lower Bridgeton area. Expect water to be over South River Drive in the lower Bridgeton area. River Lane impassable in the Old Womans Bend area.”

The river forecast will be updated around midday Monday and should be more accurate as the overall amount and impact of rainfall becomes more clear.

Other rivers in West Michigan are also forecast to go above flood stage as well.  The White River is forecast to see moderate flooding, with the Rogue and Grand Rivers likely to see minor flooding.

The best resource for updated river forecasts is theNational Weather Service hydrology page.

As always, you can find interactive radar and the 7 Day Forecast on the Weather page.