WeatherWeather News


Ohio River floodgates are up, so why is there still flooding?

WCPO lockland dams.jpg
Posted at 6:29 PM, Mar 04, 2021
and last updated 2021-03-04 20:05:05-05

WARSAW, Ky. — All 12 floodgates at the Markland Locks and Dam were raised by Thursday afternoon, but people living upriver should still expect flooding overnight.

Paul Kremer, deputy commander of the Great Lakes and Ohio River Division of the Army Corps of Engineers, explained that most Ohio River dams’ primary purpose is navigation for river traffic, not flood control.

That means the three-hour process of raising the floodgates helps prevent some flooding but can’t handle it all, especially after a snowy February contributed so much extra water to the river.

The result: Floods and stalled river traffic until the water diminishes.

At Markland, engineers expect the river to crest at 51.9 feet overnight and recede from there, returning to safe levels by the weekend. Shawn Riley, who operates the Markland Locks and Dam, said he thinks he’ll be lowering the floodgates on Sunday.

The National Weather Service predicts a higher Thursday night crest in the Cincinnati area — 57 feet — but roughly the same outcome. The river will wane to normal levels by Tuesday at noon, according to the NWS’s most recent predictions.