OT: Red River Flooding in Southern OK

Okiedawn OK Zone 7June 27, 2007

This is off-topic but it is, at least, weather-related.

If any of you are planning on traveling down I-35 and into Texas during the next couple of days, please be aware that the Red River is very close to flood stage near the I-35 bridge that crosses the river between Thackerville, OK, and Gainesville, Texas.

Evacuations of low-lying areas in Love County near the Red River began around 11 p.m. last night. At last report the Red River was at almost 23 feet and still rising. Flood Stage is 25 feet. The Red River is expected to be out of its banks near Gainesville/Thackerville in just a few hours, and the water is expected to crest around 31 feet on Thursday afternoon.

For any of you who may remember the great flood of 1981, the river crested at 28 or 29 feet that year.

Just wanted to give y'all a heads up in case anyone is going to be on the road today.

Everything is fine at our house. Even though we have the Red River on three sides of us, we are not on low-lying land and are not in any danger of being flooded.

I hope you all are safe and well. I understand flooding is occurring in many places today in Oklahoma and Texas.

Stay safe everyone!


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Isn't this rain CRAZY? I hate to see anyone flooded and the wheat farmers here are crying, but... I will take this year's weather over last year!! We live on a dirt road, and last year everything was just so dusty and dirty all summer long. This time last year, DHs cattle already had the pasture grubbed down. This year, the pasture has outgrown the cattle - even with the new calves!

I wish people would heed warnings like yours. Flooding (particularly driving into water on the roadway) is so deadly!


    Bookmark   June 27, 2007 at 11:16AM
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Okiedawn OK Zone 7

Hi Rita,

It is crazy. I have heard all my life that droughts end in flooding, and this year illustrates it perfectly.

After all the wildfires we fought in 2005-2006, I swore I would really and truly appreciate any and all rain that fell. However, the more the rain falls, the harder it is to keep on appreciating it. lol

Last night when our county emergency management director called us to let us know flooding was eminent and evacuation was beginning, it just seemed surreal. You know....flooding is what happens to other people, somewhere else....not here.
Being a calm person who does not get rattled, my DH said "page us if you need us" and rolled over and went back to sleep! (Evacuations were near us, but over a mile away on lower-lying land.) Being a more nervous person, I couldn't sleep so got up and starting baking stuff for the firefighters to eat today.

I listened to my fire radio as firefighters from the adjacent fire department and county deputies began evacuating the Thackerville and Love's Valley area. It is strange to hear people you know on the radio saying that they have advised Mr. and Mrs. So-and-so (whom you also know) to move their animals and family members to higher ground. Flooding is always a tragedy for those affected by it, but it is easy to remain detached if you don't personally know the folks involved.

A little early morning sun here has now been replaced by heavy clouds, and I fear it is going to rain again.

We are basically in a holding pattern, waiting for things to get worse, and ready to take action when they do.

My son drove over the Red River bridge around 8 a.m. and said the river was so high that it was 'scarey'. He is a professional firefighter and does not scare easily!

I just hope everyone who lives in the Red River area, or who is traveling through it, is very careful today.


    Bookmark   June 27, 2007 at 11:42AM
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Hi Dawn and Rita:

I dont live in low lying area but my flower beds have washed out, there is water standing around my house, and the mulch in my front beds washed up to my front door.

Yesterday, there were more highway closings in Seminole and Pott county than I ever imagined there could be! It is not over either. So, who does not believe in global warming?

I was in Kansas over the week-end and the amount of wheat still in the fields was amazing to me. I also noted the amount of cheat in the fields which you usually dont see. AS DH states, a lot of the crop is ruined.

OKay, the brighter side, my daylillies have never looked better, my oriental and asian lillies are fabulous, etc. I should specify those are in the beds that have not washed out. But as I have said before, I love to do, do overs!

Oh, Dawn, I have a turtle in my yard somewhere and he is loving my ripe tomatoes. Gets them before I can! Makes ya want to cry sometimes when you know how that tomato was going to taste when you got home from work and you go to get it in the mud and he has eaten half of it. Sorry, I am a princess and dont want to share.

Everyone stay dry and stay safe, I cant tell you how many times I had to turn around yesterday and go another route to get home. I am not a swimmer anyway, so I would be like a rock and they would find my body in ADA!

I just keep thinking, we need everything in moderation, so Mother Nature needs to forgive us and give us a little moderation for just a few weeks!

Chat more later. Steffie

    Bookmark   June 27, 2007 at 7:46PM
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Okiedawn OK Zone 7

Dear Princess Steffie,

The only way I have been able to stop turtles from feeding on the low tomatoes on the plants is by putting a fine mesh around the plants. You can use bird netting, plastic hardware cloth, plastic or metal poultry mesh, etc. Even then, you have to anchor it into the soil or the turtle will work his or her way up under it.

I cannot believe how widespread the water problems are. I was on the Mesonet looking at the NWS pages that show flood warnings/watches and flash flood warnings/watches and they literally extend from south Texas to Missouri. I have NEVER seen such widespread flooding problems for such a prolonged period of time, although I guess it was this bad or worse in 1981, when we had the year of heavy flooding following the horrendous drought and heat of 1980.

I am not a swimmer either, and the flooded roads scare me. We drove over the Red River bridge last night and the river was higher and faster than I have ever seen it, although it is not nearly as high as it was in 1981 (but we didn't live here then, and I didn't have to deal with it!). Shortly before sunset we heard that the Texas Dept. of Transportation was closing down the I-35 service road near the bridge because water was coming up onto it.

The effects of all this rain on the wheat and hay farmers is just heartbreaking. After everyone prayed for rain during the last couple of years of drought, who would have thought enough rain would fall to ruin the crops?

I don't know if ANYONE in Love County was able to harvest their winter wheat, and only a portion of the hay pastures have been able to get 1 cutting done, and that was during a little dry spell when we went several days without rain. Mostly, though, the fields are so wet that the farm equipment can't even be driven into them without becoming hopelessly mired in the mud.

I have worked in the wet yard, garden and pastures so much that I think I am growing webbed feet. lol It is impossible to keep your feet dry. I try, but even the "waterproof" hiking and work boots allow some water penetration if you are on wet ground with them all day long, day after day.

The trees, shrubs, lawn and flowers are all loving the moisture, but the veggies are not. I am hoping for some dry weather too.

On the other hand, though, the cooler temperatures have been SO delightful and I know we will be miserable when the hotter temperatures return.


    Bookmark   June 28, 2007 at 7:29AM
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When we first started building in 2004, a unique box turtle showed up. We named him (her?) "Chunky" because it has a chunk missing from its shell (right rear). He has continued to show up every spring, and he likes to eat cat food, especially if it is damp. :) Chunky is free to come and go as he pleses, but when he shows up, DH digs up worms and feeds them to him. LOL! Not so strange, considering DH also buys packages of pecans at the grocery store for one of our resident squirrels... *rolling eyes*

Anyway, we haven't had turtles eating anything out of our garden, but we did have a snapping turtle in the flower bed last week. DH took it to the creek, as I didn't want it hiding under plants for me to find it when I was weeding.


    Bookmark   June 28, 2007 at 8:51AM
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Okiedawn OK Zone 7

Chunky is cute!

We always have lots of turtles because we have 4 ponds, 2 creeks and a swamp....in normal years. Right now, with all this rain, we just have one big swamp surrounding the deeper water in the ponds and creeks.

I guess all the rain has been great for the turtles because we have many, many more than usual.

Also, the turtles have tended to avoid the lily pond in the back yard in the past because there is so much traffic around it all the time (humans, dogs, cats, chickens, and guineas). This year, though, there is a very large turtle there (about 15" long and maybe 10" wide) and one of her offspring who hatched earlier this spring and is now slightly larger than the palm of your hand. Mrs. Turtle dug a hole in the middle of the bermuda lawn several weeks ago and we are waiting to see if the eggs hatch and the babies make their way to the pond.

We buy all kinds of food for all kinds of wildlife, although the squirrels have to get by on the native pecans and acorns. During the winter months we feed so many forms of wildlife that it just gets ridiculous.....the deer stand on the edge of the woods and make a strange crying/calling/screaming sound if I am 'late' in putting food out for them in the winter months....not that they are spoiled or anything. :)

In past years we didn't feed the wildlife as much, but then during the drought years of '05 and '06 we began to feed them because they were so thin and obviously suffering. Now they are spoiled and come out of the woodwork....OK, out of the forests and fields....around sunset every evening to eat what we put out for them. The deer and rabbits are so used to us that they won't run when they see us, although they will take off once we get within 10' or 12' of them. The dogs are so used to the rabbits that they won't even chase them, but they still do try to chase the deer.

Most years the turtles aren't too big of a problem with regards to eating tomatoes, and it is always worse when it is dry. Sometimes, though, a turtle seems to develop a preference for tomatoes and literally takes up residence inside the garden.

    Bookmark   June 28, 2007 at 9:34AM
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Okiedawn OK Zone 7

At bedtime last night, the Red River was at 29.5 feet and mild to moderate flooding of low-lying Wildlife Conservation areas and farm pastures was occurring.

The river's level is expected to peak sometime Friday afternoon at or slightly below 31 feet. Flood stage near the I-35 bridge between Gainesville, Texas, and Thackerville, Oklahoma, is 25 feet, I think. So far, almost everyone in Love County has been very fortunate. I haven't heard of anyone's home being flooded, although some folks have had to move cattle and horses to higher ground.

I-35 is open and is expected to remain open. There were a few brief traffic delays on the bridge yesterday when the Corps of Engineers closed down at least one lane of traffic so they could do some flow measurements from the bridge itself.

However, heavy rains were falling between Wichita Falls, TX, and the Duncan and Lawton, OK, areas yesterday afternoon and evening, and some of that rainfall will ultimately make its way down to the Red River, so we might see water levels staying high for a while.

I know it is flooding in many other areas of Oklahoma as well. Hope everyone is safe and dry.


    Bookmark   June 29, 2007 at 6:34AM
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Dawn I am trying to find time to check your flood updates each day...they are better than listening to weather reports on TV....go Dawn!

Mom is still in hospital....I hope her reports come today...we spent all day there yesterday waiting for doc with report only to learn report had not come yet at past 6 last evening...sigh.

Sis is still there also with her knee replacement...so we have been camped all week at hospital.

I have NO IDEA when we will get to cross the Red River to go pick up new trailer....lol.....couldn't bring it home anyway even with gravel my poor DH spread on Monday...and we finally gave up and put our trailer in storage so we would know we could get it out when needed.

What a trying time we are having right now. Say prayers for my mom for good report on her tests please....and sis for fast recovery.

I have not even looked at my gardens all week...too tired to wade out to look by the time I get home. Rest of peaches have been falling off tree for lack of attention...I can see them from my patio. But my family is far more important. After 10 to 12 hours a day at hospital I am exhausted.

Ya'll stay safe! And dry too if possible.


    Bookmark   June 29, 2007 at 8:00AM
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Okiedawn OK Zone 7

Hi Merry Heart,

I will try to keep y'all posted on what is happening with the River. It rose a LOT yesterday, but slowed down significantly overnight. At 3 a.m. Friday it was at 28.9' and expected to crest at 29.7' sometime this afternoon. Due to ongoing rain to our west and northwest in areas that eventually drain into the Red River, it may remain higher for an longer period than initially believed, but they don't expect it to rise significantly higher than what it will reach today. Earlier in the week a media outlet said the Red River would crest 2' higher than it did in 1981. That was erroneous. It hit 40' that year and the bridge remained open (barely) so it will be fine this year.

Lake Texoma is expected to crest at 633.0' on July 5th. That will be its highest since June 1995. I think the 'emergency' spillway is at 640', so the lake still has room to take on quite a lot more water, although there is already some flooding around the lake and there is going to be more widespread flooding during the next few days.

It is interesting to me that all the media (and National Weather Service) attention remains focused primarily on the Red River at the I-35 bridge. I have been wondering what is going on on with the Taovayas Bridge between Love County (Leon/Courtney), Oklahoma, and Montague County (St. Jo), Texas and haven't heard a word. I also wonder what is happening downstream at Whitesboro where there is also a bridge across the Red River, but haven't heard anything about that one either.

KXII has been reporting lake levels, especially with regards to Lake Texoma. I understand the Fourth of July holiday is looking bleak for the Lake Texoma area because almost all the public access boat ramps are under water, although many campsites currently remain above water. I suspect the Kingston area is experiencing flooding, too, along the river, but haven't heard it mentioned by the media or NWS.

G.M., I did not realize your mom was in the hospital. If you had previously posted that info, I missed it. I do hope that she is doing well and that the tests they have been doing will give y'all some insight into what is going on. Waiting for test results is very frustrating, so hang in there. AND, your sister has had a knee replacement? This week? Yikes, what a week! I hope your sister's recovery is going well too. I will pray for your mom and your sister, and for you too, because I know that you are very worried and under great stress.

Don't even think about your garden when you get home. It will be there doing its thing whether you give it any attention at all. Honestly, with all the rain, my veggies are looking very bad and the garden is more of a source of stress or distress this year and not as much of a source of joy. I wish I had not even bothered to plant veggies this year, but none of us knew in winter or early spring just what lay ahead of us, did we?

Eventually, life will settle down and y'all will finally be able to pick up the new trailer, pack it up and even go RVing somewhere. Think how nice it will be to finally be able to do that!

Family is EVERYTHING, so focus on them and be sure to take good care of yourself, too. You can't take care of them if you let yourself get rundown and sick.

You and your family are in my thoughts and prayers, today and every day.


    Bookmark   June 29, 2007 at 10:33AM
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okiedawn - I don't know how you tell the gender of a turtle, but I read a story of a man who was killing flies, and when his wife walked in and saw him with the fly swatter, she said "Are you having any luck?" He said, "Yep, I've killed three males and two females."

"How do you know their sex she asked?"

His answer, "Three on the beer can, two on the phone."

Maybe this will help you decide.

Glad you are safe from the water. We just had friends visit from Blackwell OK. They had to drive across the northern part of the state. On one bridge they were still able to cross although law enforcement we there at the time. He said he could feel the truck moving from the forst of the water and was not returning that way. They are going into Kansas, then coming back down when they hit I-35. It is so bad in so many places. We have had lots of rain in Grove but not enough to be dangerous anytime this year. Compared to the rest of you, we have been very blessed. Be safe. Carol

    Bookmark   June 29, 2007 at 4:02PM
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Okiedawn OK Zone 7

Hi Carol!

I will have to remember that flie joke---it is priceless and really put a smile on my face. Thanks.

I am glad your friends have been able to travel safely. Right now there are so many places in Oklahoma where road closings are occurring due to high water. In Love County we have been very fortunate...only remote pastures, fields and wildlifle conservation land are flooded. Ironically, these are some of the exact same areas where we fought huge wildfires just a year or so ago.

I have been checking the National Weather Service website constantly and it seems like a new flood watch, flash flood watch, flood warning or flash flood warning is issued for some county in Oklahoma about every 15 minutes.

Our weather is actually improving here---sunshine almost all day long today and only a couple of little raindrops. But to the north and northwest of us in southwestern and western Oklahoma, the conditions are bad. Heavy rains continue to fall, flooding is occurring....and a lot of their runoff will end up in the Red River so it will eventually make it down here to us.

I got about an acre mowed today, although I had to mow around some puddles that were too deep to mow through.

I didn't get to plant. The shrub bed I am working on is just sopping wet and now we have some thunderstorms popping up here. No rain yet, as of 4 p.m., but I decided to call it a day and come inside.

I think we are going to Gainesville to eat dinner, so we will get to drive across the I-35 bridge in an hour or so. I'll let y'all know if it still looks 'scarey'.

You stay safe too! Hoping you have some sunshine this weekend!


    Bookmark   June 29, 2007 at 5:10PM
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Okiedawn OK Zone 7

According to the National Weather Service, the Red River has now crested at the I-35 Bridge between Thackerville, OK, and Gainesville, TX. The river is currently at 30 feet, 5 feet over the flood stage of 25 feet. The river level should now begin falling according to the NWS. However, we just had a gullywasher of a storm, and rain continues upstream from us, so anything still could happen.

Y'all be careful out there.


    Bookmark   June 29, 2007 at 6:01PM
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I just talked to my friends and they did manage to get back across Hiway 60, and didn't have to go into Kansas, but I heard on the Tulsa news that the road is now closed. They said the water was very deep when they crossed. Sorry, I ain't going in. I believe in "Turn around, don't drown."

I would apoligize for my topic not being gardening, but I am afraid there is more weather related problems happening in Oklahoma than there is gardening this season. Poor wheat farmers.

    Bookmark   June 29, 2007 at 7:52PM
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The Oklahoman is reporting today that Lake Arcadia has been closed, and they're not sure when it will reopen. Apparently the water is 10 feet above normal levels, and all the recreational areas are underwater. They can't let any water out of the lake because all the areas they would send water too are full as well.

Sounds like a very WET Fourth of July.

    Bookmark   June 29, 2007 at 8:44PM
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rjj1(Norman OK Zone7)

In 1981 my parents had a small place just off Texhoma. We were down visiting that weekend and went to one of the boat ramps. People that had gone out on the lake very early that morning must not have noticed the lake was rising. The lot was full of cars with water deep enough to fill the floor boards.

The scary part was we could see the water rising on the ground. A lake the size of texhoma rising fast enough to actually be able to see it rising. The red ants were climbing up on everything, especially legs. :-) Don't think I will ever forget that.


    Bookmark   June 29, 2007 at 8:54PM
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Okiedawn OK Zone 7

Hi Everyone,

We drove over the Red River Bridge into Gainesville tonight for dinner and back again. It was pouring rain as we crossed over, but wasn't raining when we came back.

As near as I can tell, the Red River is about 5' or 6' feet beneath the I-35 roadway on the bridge, which is higher than I thought it should be for a 30 foot flood stage. In 1981, the water got right up to the roadway, but did not come up onto the roadway so they left the bridge open. People who crossed it while the water was high say that the bridge was 'rocking and swaying'. The river is not expected to get that high this year. The water rose to 40' in 1981.

I then drove over to McGeehee's Catfish Restaurant to see the river with a couple of other ladies while our guys were working on a truck at the fire station. The river there is so far out of its' banks that you would not believe it. I would guess we were looking a water that was between 100 and 150 yards wide. We were almost speechless. There were a lot of trees that were almost totally submerged--you could only see a couple of feet of their crown, and these are very large trees. Normally these trees are nowhere near the river.

McGeehee's itself is on much higher land and does not seem to be in any danger from the rising waters. A lot of people were at McGeehee's. Some came to eat dinner but a lot of the others, like us, just came to gawk at the flooded area.

Carol, I am glad your friends made it back safely. I am like you--I will not drive through flooded roadways. Turn around, don't drown!

Julie, It is a shame the lake is so full. At some point they may have to release water anyway, and if that happens, I feel for whoever is downstream. At Lake Texhoma they can choose how much to release and when to release it until the lake reaches 640'. At that point, the water begins to go over the 'emergency spillway' and there is no stopping it.

Randy, Just a day or two ago they were telling everyone to come on out to Lake Texoma and camp at the campsites because the campsites and restaurants would be open even if the boat ramps were under water. Today, however, they began evacuating campers out of those campsites. Looks like things changed mighy fast!

They have been showing footage on TV from 1981 and it is simply amazing. It must have been quite a sight. People here talk about it all the time and they all have memories of how awe-inspiring a sight all that water was. They also remember being scared to death of the rapidly-rising water.

Currently the lake is projected to crest at 633.9 on July 5th, but the projected crest keeps rising because it continues to rain in the Texoma watershed. I think we may well see it crest at 636 or 637 if the rain continues for a few more days.


    Bookmark   June 29, 2007 at 9:58PM
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wolflover(z7 OK)

I was living in Ardmore in 1981, and remember that flood very well. I thought it would NEVER stop raining. We drove down to the Red River bridge at Gainesville when the river was at its peak, and it was unbelievable and very "scary". But what I remember the most was the Frank Buck zoo in Gainesville flooding and so many of the animals being swept away by the flood waters and drowning. They had an elephant at the zoo named Gerry who was under water during the flood, and the way she survived was holding her trunk above her head, out of the water, to be able to breath. It was a miracle that she managed to survive and was eventually rescued. I always loved that zoo and was so sad that so many animals perished in the flood waters. Gerry was a local hero after she survived the flood, and I believe the elephant they have now is named Gerry II in her honor. :)

The Washita River here looks as if it's about to flood its banks. It's at 18.5' right now and forecast to be at 22' in the morning, which is considered "action stage". Flood stage is 24'. I took pictures of it a couple days ago and it looked like it was flooded then. We live on a ridge above the river so we shouldn't be in any danger of flooding, but I imagine DH will have to find a different route to work.

    Bookmark   June 30, 2007 at 1:37AM
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Okiedawn OK Zone 7

The good news is that the Red River crested at 30 feet yesterday afternoon and had fallen to 29.5' by 5 a.m. today.
It is expected to fall to 28 feet by Saturday evening.

The bad news is that Love County and several surrounding counties have experienced heavy rainfall overnight, and the rain continues to fall this morning.

Therefore, the new crest prediction issued by the Corps of Engineers is that the Red River will crest again by Monday a.m., July 2nd, and the current forecast for the crest is 29.7', although that will rise if the rains continue to fall.


I have been watching the Washita, the Blue and Caney Creek all week long. They are all at flood stage downstream from you. I think the Washita crested at Dickson yesterday and quite a bit of flooding has occurred there, though it has affected mostly farm fields and low-lying rural roads.

I am glad y'all are on a high ridge and hope your DH has a safe alternate route to work.

Gerry is still quite the local hero. Of course, we were not living here then, but we have seen the photos and heard the stories. When Gainesville flooded recently, I believe the zoo employees managed to get all the animals safely to higher ground. They had some assistance from local volunteers and from some zoo employees from the Dallas-Fort Worth area.

As the Red River flooding continues, a lot of wildlife is coming up onto higher ground and we are seeing evidence of that on our place.

I am ready for it to dry out a bit, but THAT probably isn't going to happen any time soon.


    Bookmark   June 30, 2007 at 9:22AM
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I remember that elephant too. I loved that ornary critter....lol. It was amazing how she survived that flood!
She used to take great delight in blowing her trunk in your face....I remember tricking my dad into that...at first he was shocked and then he thought it quite funny...he talked about the elephant for a long time afterward. Wish I had video or pics of that since now dad is gone.

This rain is relentless!
It is making me feel pretty depressed at this point. It is so awesome each time we see the sun for even a short time.
I just can't recall ever seeing this much rain in the summer time...I know it has happened but had to have been when I didn't pay much attention to the weather...lol. It started pouring close to 4 yesterday afternoon and we have had few let-ups since. My yard is hopeless....water standing in so many places. UGLY MESS....lol.

I finally went to garden yesterday and picked about a half dozen pods of okra...hahaha. and 3 peppers....may lose the tomatoes and I have SO MANY plants now too with all the volunteers which came up in various places....at least maybe the fruit which is on them now will eventually ripen?

I definetely wish I had not planted anything to eat this year...it has been such a wasted effort. This may change my gardening habits for a long time to come.

I have NO idea how much rain we have had at our house. I gave up measuring it quite a while ago but I wish I knew. I KNOW the reports they give on TV are not even close to my actual totals. Oh well all I know is that there is water, water EVERYWHERE!

Front page of newspaper a few days had a pic of a guy catching fish with his hands as they floated over the spillway at Lake Murray....lol. It has been a long while since I saw that much water over the spillway.

DH keeps telling me "it will stop"....I keep saying "yes, I know, but WHEN?"
Now there is a million dollar question for you! lol

Dawn-thank you for your well wishes and prayers for my family. Yes this week has been exhausting and very stressful...you worry more when one is 90 years old. At least with mom back to her apartment I can relax a LOT better.
Later I will get out the life raft and row on over to hospital to check on my sis. And I won't have to search for a park that way either....lol.
At least my niece is staying close with my sis so that leaves me available for mom.

Ya'll behave yourselves!

    Bookmark   June 30, 2007 at 9:31AM
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wolflover(z7 OK)

The Washita didn't get as high here overnight as they had forecast, thank God. The NOAA National Weather forecast sure looks better this morning. Hopefully the river won't flood its banks after all. It's not raining here this morning, but who knows what the rest of the day will bring.

Merryheart, I'm glad to hear your mom is doing better and back at her apartment. What a relief for you all. I hope your sister recuperates fast and gets to go home soon, too. You take care of yourself while you're taking care of your family!

I was mistaken about the elephant Gerry who survived the flood in 1981. SHE was Gerry II, named in honor of the zoo's previous elephant. Gerry II was transferred from the Frank Buck zoo after one of her keepers was found dead in her enclosure in 1997. She was transferred to several zoos before ending up at the Elephant Sanctuary in Tennessee. It is reported that she suffered severe emotional trauma from being trapped in the flood waters during the floods of 1981. The Sanctuary reports "several who were close to her have said that the threat of a pending storm causes her to become petrified with fear. Her phobia of water was so deep that for years she would allow only one keeper to give her a bath." I am happy to learn that Gerry has found a safe and secure sanctuary to live out the remainder of her life and will no longer have to be evacuated when there is a threat of flooding to the Frank Buck zoo... I grew up going to that zoo and always loved that old elephant too.

    Bookmark   June 30, 2007 at 10:29AM
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Story of Sissy (Gerry II) is at this site

    Bookmark   June 30, 2007 at 12:18PM
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Okiedawn OK Zone 7


What a sad story. Sissy has had to endure so much. I hope that her life at the Elephant Sanctuary has helped her to heal and that her recent years have been happier ones.


    Bookmark   June 30, 2007 at 1:11PM
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hank1949(Z 7 OKC)

If my memory is correct I seem to recall the early 1980's - 1982 to 1984 - having unusually hot summers. It was those times of extended near 110 degree temps in OKC. I remember liking it because the humidity was so unusually low to non-existent. I thought of Africa when I was out in it because if the wind blew at all it felt like it was coming from a big furnace. Once the temps went over 100 the humidity out here just disappears. I remember having a pair of shoes with kind of gum rubber soles that about melted as I walked to my car in the asphalt parking lot. My car bit the dust then because everything that heat could do to wear a car down happened. From 1969 to then I had not owned a car with air conditioning but I bought my only ever new car after that with AC and have been tied to AC ever since. Funny how things like that happen.

So maybe we have some good tomato growing weather coming our way in a year or so. LOL

Anybody else remember the heat wave of the early 1980's?

    Bookmark   June 30, 2007 at 1:39PM
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Okiedawn OK Zone 7


I do remember the heat wave of 1980 although I was living in Texas at the time. It was the worst summer ever and I know that I will never forget it.

I was in college and working full-time, and I had a car with NO air conditioner. (That was the absolute last car I ever bought without an air conditioner!) My dad had a garden that year, as always, and all I remember about it is that he had a HUGE crop of the biggest, tastiest tomatoes we'd ever produced until the red spider mites got the plants in early August.

In Fort Worth we went 69 days between June 23 and September 6 with high temperatures over 100 degrees, a record which stands to this day. We also recorded the all-time highest temperature ever officially recorded in the D-FW area on June 26 and June 27---113 degrees. That same year the second highest temperature ever recorded in Texas was recorded in Wichita Falls--119 degrees.

In Oklahoma City, y'all had 50 days of triple digit high temperatures and recorded OKC's all-time high temp of 110 degrees--the hottest day on record outside of the Dust Bowl days.

The Heat Wave of June-Sept. 1980 did an estimated $20 billion in damages/costs to agriculture and related industries. In addition, an estimated 10,000 deaths during that time-frame were classified as heat-related deaths including those caused by heat-related stress.

I worked for an international airline and I remember that people would walk off the air-conditioned aircraft into the UNAIRCONDITIONED jetways, which were said to be in excess of 140 degrees, and they would collapse right there in the jetway. It happened over and over again. We sure kept the police officers, paramedics and firefighters busy that summer with all the medical calls.

I also remember that you just couldn't seem to cool off, no matter what you did, because the nights were so incredibly warm too.

I have been thinking along the same lines as you that we ought to have good gardening weather next year. For as long as I can remember, we have often had several hot and dry years in a row, but I don't ever remember having two excessively wet years in a row.....well, maybe in the late 1960s, but I was a kid then, so am not sure the memory is accurate.


    Bookmark   June 30, 2007 at 6:10PM
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I don't recall the rain, but I do recall the dust storms we had in the 80's. I had never been in a dust storm before (from SE Kansas) and was like totally shocked by it. I remember driving home from work one evening trying to beat the dust storm home (it was right behind me all the way). It seemed like no matter whether you were indoors or outdoors, there was dust in your nose and mouth!

You mentioned the Caney River in your other post, Dawn. I do remember that river since I lived within 50 miles of Bartlesville in SE Kansas. Lots of rivers in that area. We grew up between the Verdigris and Fall River in Neodesha, Kansas. Grandpa had a little cabin he built right on the Verdigris, and we spent many happy times there fishing, running trot and limb lines with him. We kids were maneuvering the boat around the river when we were just small fry. Today, I wouldn't think about letting my kids run around in a boat by themselves. Times have changed.


    Bookmark   June 30, 2007 at 7:57PM
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Okiedawn OK Zone 7


Times have changed a LOT, haven't they! When I think of how free we were to run all over the place, and play near the creeks and ponds, and take boats out on the river....those WERE the good old days! Nowadays it seems like everything is so much more dangerous....or at least we are so much more aware of the dangers.

I haven't been through many dust storms, although Fort Worth might have one or two a year blow in out of the west. We've had two since we moved to Oklahoma--one was that big one back in the spring that came in with winds in excess of 60 m.p.h.

Can you imagine what it was like to live during the Dust Bowl days? One of the many things for which I am grateful is that we do not have to endure that kind of hardship nowadays. I know that we are spoiled. Nowadays we think it is a hardship if it rains hard and the satellite dish goes out for a little while during the downpour!


    Bookmark   June 30, 2007 at 8:33PM
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Oh my! I DO remember the HOT summer of 1980! It was bad...over 100 for a long time. I was divorced and poor as could be, working as assitant manager to a local restaurant and with a 6 year old son. My rented house had no AC !!! I only had box fans. Good thing I was young...lol.

I spent as much time as possible at the lake with a lawn chair in the water...hahaha. Those old banana loungers which folded at both ends. Got one of the worst sunburns I have ever had. I have a pic of me with the sunburn and my sis had frosted my hair too much...I had on a blue tube top..couldn't stand much clothes I was so burned...white shorts and I was RED. My DH...then my fiance took the pic and he still calls it "My All American Girl" since I was red/white and blue...lol.

Hey we survived that one too! But yes it was a very bad year. The heat was as relentless as this rain seems to be now.


    Bookmark   July 1, 2007 at 9:58AM
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wolflover(z7 OK)

I wouldn't be surprised if I knew you back then. I was living in Ardmore, working at Uniroyal during the heatwave of 1980. I was on the 3-11 shift and got three weeks vacation that summer. I was separated from my husband, who was in Colorado going to school. It was so hot at Uniroyal that summer (my 5th) that I thought I was truly going to die from the heat. (People really were dropping dead from the heat by the thousands)!! I took a couple weeks vacation and went to Colorado where it was so cool, I'd have to wear a jacket in the evenings. I came back from vacation and told Uniroyal to stick that hot factory up their %@#$, and quit my job. LOL. Before that, I really saw myself working at that factory until I retired! I had a very easy job with great benefits. But that heatwave was so brutal, I couldn't take it anymore. I retired for good that year, at age 23. It was the best move I ever made and I've enjoyed life so much since I quit working. Just a few years after that, we moved to the country and I became ** a gardener**!! :)

    Bookmark   July 1, 2007 at 10:52AM
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Hey! It is quite possible we knew each other when you lived here. My DH was in management for Uniroyal when it started up here in town in 1970. He came here from Detroit, Mighigan. He retired down here in 2001 after 33 years with the company. You may have known him for sure. He was quality control manager at that time.

My niece is about your age...you are about 4 years younger than me like she is. She worked at Uniroyal for several years. But when she married in 1979 or 1980 her DH made her quit.

Did you go to school here? How many years did you live in Ardmore? We probably know each other or know some of the same people more than likely.

It is a small world really.

    Bookmark   July 1, 2007 at 5:54PM
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Hey, I caught this message stream and would love to see more updates about I-35 status in southern Oklahoma. I am planning to drive down to the Arlington area on Friday and am trying to make sure I avoid any flooding...I take it so far I-35 has not been flooded or in danger of closing, at least on the Oklahoma side...anyone have any info on the Texas side into Cooke county?

Many thanks,

    Bookmark   July 2, 2007 at 2:59PM
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Okiedawn OK Zone 7

Hi David!

I will try to post every day, hopefully once in the morning and once at night.

At this point in time, there is absolutely no reason to believe that the I-35 bridge will be closed to thru traffic UNLESS the unthinkable were to happen and some sort of major debris were to damage the structural components of the bridge. In the unlikely event that this were to occur, I would let everyone know immediately.

Current projections are for the Red River to crest this evening at 30.2' around 7 p.m. Currently the river is at 30.1' or maybe a tiny bit higher. The river should fall below flood stage (25') before Friday, most likely on Thursday, barring further heavy rain in the river basin upstream from the Thackerville/Gainesville area.

In 1981 the bridge remained open even though the river rose to 40', although people who crossed it at that time say the bridge was 'rocking and rolling'.

Cooke County has not experienced any flooding of I-35 the last few days. The danger zones to watch for when you are coming through (in the event of exceptionally heavy rainfall at that time) are: the California Rd. exit in Gainesville, which flooded terribly week before last, and also the service roads AND I-35 near Sanger a little south of Gainesville, especially near the big unfinished mansion west of I-35. Those two spots can be treacherous during periods of extreme rainfall. However, right now there are no problems.

If you are going to go down I-35 towards Fort Worth from Denton, the area most likely to flood if exceptionally heavy rain is falling is the area from the Texas Motor Speedway south to Fort Worth. If you are going to go down I-35 towards Dallas from Denton, no one area seems more likely to flood in that area, since it all seems to drain off the interstate and towards Lake Lewisville (which is about 8' above normal levels right now).

I'll keep y'all posted on road conditions--have a safe trip!


    Bookmark   July 2, 2007 at 6:23PM
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Okiedawn OK Zone 7

The Red River crest was at 30.8' at 2 a.m. Tuesday, July 3rd.

Moderate flooding is continuing in low-lying areas, mainly affecting low-lying Wldlife Conservation Area lands, pastures and range lands.

The River is now falling and is expected to fall below the flood stage of 25' around 7 p.m. Wednesday evening, July 4th.

Most of south-central Oklahoma remains under a flash flood watch or warning until this evening due to the saturated soils and a chance of locally heavy rainfalls.

The chances of rain decrease as the week goes on, so we are hopeful the worst of the weather is behind us.


    Bookmark   July 3, 2007 at 9:19AM
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