Don't camp near creekbeds this weekend, NWS warns

Friday, August 31, 2012

Nevada Daily Mail

Vernon Countians visiting the Eastern Ozark mountains during the Labor Day weekend should be aware of tropical storm-related forecasts and avoid streams and creeks.

The Big Piney, Current, Jacks Fork and Eleven Point rivers will probably not flood, but the water could rise in a flash in streams and creeks and sluice dangerously down the rocky beds, said National Weather Service meteorologist John Gagan of Springfield.

Gagan forecast showers from thunderstorms raised by Tropical Storm Isaac today to reinforce the two to 2 1/2 inches of rain that fell over much of Southwest Missouri last weekend. "Another good inch of rain looks possible Friday and Friday night," he said Thursday afternoon.

"It will be a little spottier Saturday. The heat of the afternoon could see scattered showers and thunderstorms pop up, but the bulk of it will be received tomorrow and tomorrow night.

"The heaviest rain will be in the Eastern Ozarks around West Plains, Salem and Rolla. We're not expecting any river flooding because it has been so dry. This should be a good, steady light to moderate rain that soaks in nicely.

"However, you should avoid setting up camp anywhere near creeks or streams because they can come up suddenly. The Missouri Ozarks are notorious for that with the terrain we have. It's pretty rocky."

Notwithstanding the relatively mild forecast, Gagan said there could be "a brief tornado or two east of Highway 65, but the risk is low."

The Missouri Department of Transportation has been keeping an eye on the remnants of Isaac as well, and crews will be ready to respond today and into the weekend if roads are flooded or if debris ends up in the roadway because of the storm. Flash flooding can be life-threatening, so MoDOT is reminding motorists to slow down to avoid skidding and hydroplaning, and offers the following advice:

* Leave plenty of following distance.

* Never drive through water covering a road, even if you have a pickup or SUV. Only a few inches of fast-moving water can carry away a vehicle. The roadbed may be washed out underneath the water.

* Never move or drive around barricades placed on roadways warning of high water across the road ahead. Barricades are designed to protect you from an unsafe condition. You can put yourself at serious risk if you proceed into a flooded section of road.

* If a road is closed, find another route.

* If a road is covered in flood water but is not closed by a barricade, do not drive into the water. Stop and turn around. Notify the police, sheriff or Missouri State Highway Patrol as soon as possible.

* When windshield wipers are needed, turn on your headlights.

In addition, many vehicle manufacturers recommend turning off cruise control on wet or slick roads to avoid losing control.

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