By: Janet Spurgeon
Saturated soils lead to flooding after a series of thunderstorms dump heavy rain across eastern Kansas during the 1st two weeks of June.
During the first part of June, the weather pattern was such that an upper long wave trough was situated over the southwestern U.S. This pattern set the stage for a very moist southwesterly flow to invade the Central Plains. Another kicker was a frontal zone waving across Kansas as upper level disturbances rippled along the front.Earlier rains, of .25 to 1.00 inch amounts occurring at the end of May beginning of June, began priming the soils. Image 1 is a 24 hour storm total rain amount (ending 7 AM on the 4th). 1 to 4 inches were common across central and southeast Kansas with heavier amounts of 4 to 6 inches over Greenwood and Chase Counties. Runoff from these storms not only caused area flooding of low lying areas but pushed rivers such as the Cottonwood, Walnut, Fall, Neosho, and Saline Rivers to minor flooding over the next several days. The next heavy rainfall episode occurring on the night of June 8th was concentrated over Harvey, northern Sedgwick, and northwestern Butler Counties. Image 2 shows the heaviest swath of 4 to 7 inch rain amounts over Harvey County. Refer to precipitation color scale below image. Overlaid on the image are 24 hour total precipitation reports either from cooperative observers or automated gage reports. Notice the largest ground truth report came from Elbing of 8.58 inches. Image 3 shows an expanded view of the same image. Runoff from this event caused many roads and agricultural fields to flood in northern Sedgwick and Harvey Counties. This also caused the Arkansas and the Little Arkansas Rivers and its tributaries to overflow its banks. Image 4 shows the Arkansas River overflowing its banks over Ridge Road Bridge just north of 61st St. Image 5, Image 6, and Image 7 shows filled-up ditches, causing flooding up to houses and sheds along Ridge Road, south of 109th St. or 2 miles south of the city of Sedgwick. Image 8 shows river flooding backing-up into fields and over 109th St. just east of Ridge Rd. This place is an automated river gaged site known as Sedgwick 2 south. Flood stage for this site is 22 ft. When this image was taken, the river was at a height of 23.4 ft on June 9th at 8:30 AM. The river crested at 24.24 ft early that afternoon. In the city of Sedgwick, various parts of Ridge Rd were underwater, Image 9. Image 10 shows Sand Creek flooding both sides of the road around the bridge on SW 60th Rd or 3.5 miles northeast of Sedgwick. Image 11 shows Sand Creek flood waters overtaking fields north of SW 60th Rd. Heavy rains continued from June 10th through June 12th. See Image 12, Image 13, and Image 14 for gage radar estimated rainfall for those days. With the soils very saturated, the additional rainfall amounts caused runoff to reach the rivers. Image 15 shows a map of the River points where flooding was taking place on the evening of June 12th. The red icons depict flooding along the Neosho, Cottonwood, Arkansas, White Water, and Walnut Rivers along with Gypsum Creek. Here are some river crests at specific locations; Neosho River at Erie flood stage 29.0 ft, crested at 32.20 ft on June 14th at 7 AM; the Arkansas River at Derby flood stage is 12ft, crested at 12.8 ft on June 10th at midnight; the Arkansas River at Oxford flood stage is 17 ft, crested at 17.8 ft on June 10th at 11 AM; the Arkansas River at Arkansas City flood stage 17 ft, crested at 18.5 ft on June 10th at 5 PM; White Water River at Towanda flood stage 22 ft, crested at 24.9 ft on June 10th at 10 AM and crested again at 24.3 ft on June 14th at 8 PM; Walnut River at Winfield flood stage 18 ft, crested at 20.1 ft June 6th at 9 AM and then again into moderate flooding, cresting at 27.8 ft on June 14th at 7 PM. Image 16 shows Cowskin Creek, at it's crest stage of 18.34 ft at 2 PM on Monday the 13th of June, was flooding residential yards south of 13th St just 0.2 miles west of 119th St. Image 17 shows Cowskin Creek flood waters flowing across 13th St, just west of 119th St. The river fell below it's flood stage of 18 ft early Tuesday morning the 14th of June. On the Cottonwood River at Cottonwood Falls, moderate flooding occurred with the river reaching near 13 ft on the 13th. Image 18 shows the river at a stage of 10.7 ft on June 14th. The river fell below it's flood stage of 9 ft around 5 AM on the 15th. We like to give a big thanks to our Cooperative River Gage Observers for all their time and effort to give us the needed river readings. Without you we wouldn't be able to provide the best quality river forecasts at your locations.