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Record flood predicted on North Platte
May 30, 2014 - By Bob Moen, The Associated Press
The river runs through Saratoga, but no homes or businesses in the town of 1,700 have been damaged there so far.
The amount of rain that falls Friday and Saturday around the swollen North Platte River will determine whether it rises to record levels or beyond this weekend.
"We don't need any more water in that river," Jim Fahey, National Weather Service hydrologist, said Friday.
Light rain fell Friday morning in Saratoga, where 150 Wyoming National Guard troops have been helping volunteers and others fill and stack sandbags along the North Platte.
The river runs through the town of about 1,700 residents, but no homes or businesses have been damaged.
Fahey projects the river will hit 10.5 feet on Saturday afternoon in Saratoga, causing flooding in low-lying areas. The record peak there is 10.5 feet, set in 2011.
The projections account for a half inch to an inch of rain falling Friday and Saturday.
The river was running just above 10 feet Friday, or about 1.5 feet above flood stage, because of a surge of water from melting snow in the surrounding mountains and rain over the last week.
"If we get the rain today down there, it'll get up and going," Fahey said. "If we don't get as much rain, we probably won't reach that 10.5."
About 25 miles downstream near Sinclair, the river is expected to come close, but not hit, the record levels.
Fahey said the situation should improve Sunday and into next week as the chances for rain drop and cooler temperatures slow the snowmelt.
The North Platte should recede out of minor flood stage sometime next week, he said.
Fahey said minor flooding was occurring or expected to occur on other rivers and streams, including the Big Goose at Sheridan, the Wind River in Fremont County and along the Shoshone River in northwest Wyoming, as the snowmelt runoff peaks.
"We should be out of the woods here this weekend," he said. "That's pretty much for rivers across Wyoming."