People who live along the Cimarron River, particularly near Guthrie, Coyle and Ripley are being warned to expect flooding due to recent heavy rains and a forecast that includes more chances of rain.
Major flooding is being predicted along the Cimarron River near Ripley and the National Weather Service has issued a flood warning to remain in effect until Sunday or until it cancels the warning.
Flood stage for the river is 17 feet and minor flooding is already occurring near Ripley, where the Cimarron was measured at 19.7 feet at 2 p.m. Wednesday.
The National Weather Service expects the river to continue rising until it crests near 24.7 feet Thursday evening. The agency says at 25 feet the Cimarron River valley in Payne County would be covered by flood waters averaging 8 feet.
That level of flooding is worse than the flood of 1957, which led to the temporary closure of the old Ripley bridge. A new bridge was build in 1974.
The expected flooding approaches levels seen in what the National Weather Service is calling the “Great Floods” of 1986 and 1995.
The 1986 flood caused enough damage to close the I-35 bridge over the Cimarron River near Guthrie.
Under the current warning, rural land and roads near the river are expected to be covered with water until the river falls below flood stage early Sunday morning.
Minor flooding is also being forecast near Coyle and Guthrie, where the Cimarron River is expected to rise above its 18-foot flood stage on Wednesday evening and crest at 21.8 feet Thursday afternoon.
At 22 feet flooding approaches the outskirts of the town of Coyle and U.S. Highway 77 north of Guthrie is impassable, according to the National Weather Service. Rural areas in Logan and Payne counties may see flood depths of about three feel and low-lying fields and oil wells may be flooded or isolated before the river crests.
The National Weather Service is predicting a multi-day, severe weather and heavy rain event for the central and southern plains. Northwest Texas and the entire state of Oklahoma have been warned to expect storms with hail up to the size of half-dollars and winds approaching 60 miles per hour Wednesday night. The chance of thunderstorms continues Friday night through Saturday and again Monday and Tuesday.