Lake McConaughy will release more water down the North Platte River next week.
Lincoln County Emergency Management Director Jim Nitz said the decision was made Friday to send 700 cubic feet per second of water through the dam every other day, for four or five times. The first release is planned Sunday, Nitz said, and by the end of next week, the North Platte River’s flow rate will be between 7,500-7,700 cubic feet per second.
In layman’s terms, the river’s stage will rise to 8.5 feet and northsiders who weren’t sure they’d be affected by flooding may need to think again.
“This could present some issues to people living in the north and northeast parts of town,” Nitz said.
While it’s not possible to know for sure how far above the banks the water will go, Nitz said he doubts the water would make it as far as 12th St. on the south side of the river. If it does go that far, he said, it would likely only be on the extreme eastern end of 12th.
Residents in the potentially affected area should not wait to make preparations, Nitz said.
“What they should be doing is listening to the media, and paying attention to what the National Weather Service says,” Nitz told the Bulletin. “They should be protecting their property, moving it up higher. They might also consider moving it to another location. And, they should be prepared to relocate.”
If the situation sounds more dire than it was just a few days ago, that’s because it is, Nitz said.
“Next Wednesday, the National Weather Service is expecting a warm weather event to cross the Colorado Rockies and into Wyoming’s range as well. That’s going to greatly accelerate the melting of the snow pack,” Nitz said. “They are releasing water now, because the other option is to hold it back and release a whole lot more of it later.”
U.S. Highway 30 remains closed between North Platte and Maxwell because White Horse Creek is overflowing and running across the highway near the North Platte Regional Airport. Gary Thayer of the Nebrsaka Department of Roads told the Bulletin there is little anyone can do to make the road passable because drainage in the area is limited. The highway was closed around 8 p.m. Wednesday.
"Things are only going to get worse," Thayer said. "If you are unhappy today, you're going to be unhappy tomorrow."