Waters, warnings rise

CHASSELL – Flood warnings continued for rivers in Houghton and Baraga counties this morning as warm temperatures contributed to a rapid snow melt.

Minor flooding is occurring at the Sturgeon River near Alston and Chassell, as well as the Trap Rock River near Lake Linden.

The Sturgeon River near Alston topped the flood stage of 8 feet late Sunday night; this morning it sat at 9.05 feet, according to the U.S. Geological Survey. Minor flooding is expected to continue until Thursday.

Near Chassell, the Sturgeon River has a flood warning in effect until further notice. It had narrowly topped the 10.5-foot cutoff for flooding, standing at 10.9 feet as of Monday night.

The Trap Rock River is also experiencing light flooding, reaching 9.70 feet – narrowly above the flood stage of 9.5 feet – as of 6:15 a.m. The flood warning is in effect until tonight.

Todd Kluber, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Negaunee, said the flooding shouldn’t linger past Wednesday.

“Most of the snow will be melted, plus we’ll see some cooler temperatures that will slow the melting of whatever remaining snowpack there is,” he said.

The flooding isn’t that unusual for the area, Kluber said. However, it does follow two years where lower snowfalls and earlier melts kept water levels under control.

“This year, we’ve had more of a late season where we’ve had the snowfall a little longer … that’s allowed the snow to melt quick and result in some mild to moderate flooding,” he said.

According to the NWS, people can be knocked over by even 6 inches of quick-moving flood water, while 2 feet can float a car. When confronted with flood water, Kluber said, the National Weather Service has a saying: “Turn around, don’t drown.”

“If that water’s flowing, it doesn’t take much to push the car off the road,” he said. “The last thing you want is to be floating downstream in flood waters.”

Rose Anderson of Chassell watched the Sturgeon River from her front yard Monday evening. Neither her house or her Sturgeon River Kennels, located across U.S. 41, have ever flooded, she said.

“I built them above the high-water mark on the bridge,” she said.

Waters have come up to her foundation, but never risen the final inch to her basement. Because of the low-lying land surrounding it, the river would have to flood another 1,500 acres before that happened.

With little immediate risk, she was free to watch the river flowing past.

“It’s my favorite time of year,” she said.