Newaygo Co. Closely Watching Muskegon River Levels as Temperatures Slowly Rise

Temperatures have started to rise and snow is melting a bit.

That means area rivers are once again being watched closely.

That includes the Muskegon River in Newaygo County, which has been prone to severe flooding in the past.

The county’s emergency manager says conditions appear to be on their side, but that could change and lead to trouble.

The Muskegon River is flowing freely through Newaygo County right now and that’s how Emergency Services Director Abby Watkins would like to keep seeing it.

“The heavy rainfall events is kind of what for and poses the biggest risk. So if we get heavy rain, anything over an inch, anytime between now and when the snow is gone and the ground is melted, then that can cause issues not only on our river, but that can also cause issues on the ground,” said Watkins.

The county monitors several factors along the river this time of year including how much water is in the ground, and how much water is in the snow pack. That along with the likelihood of heavy rain and current river levels determine how much a flooding risk there is.

“We’re actually sitting a lot better than we were last year. There’s still a lot of ground saturation, but it has a little bit more room to absorb some water, so that’s a good thing for us. Normal is good we like normal, we’re happy with normal,” said Watkins.

And Watkins says the one thing that could really spell trouble in the coming weeks would be a dramatic warm up.

“Slow snow melt, nothing that’s rapid, if we suddenly get a 50 or 60 degree day that, can pose some dangerous melt for us, where it can melt all at once, and then because the ground is still frozen that water has got to go somewhere, and it goes into our rivers. Really pay attention to that rainfall forecast, and any heavy rainfall event this time of year could pose a risk so be ready, be prepared,” said Watkins.

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