Texoma residents looking for outdoor activities are facing some weather-related closures in and around Lake Texoma this weekend. Area residents are urged to be cautious in and around the lake as well as in areas where there may be standing water.
“The lake is still open for business,” U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Lake Texoma Site Assistant Manager William Holder said. “Access may be limited somewhat but there are still plenty of opportunities for recreation at the marinas for people to come out and enjoy the lake. There will also be several fishing opportunities either by boat or on land. A lot of times, once water gets over dry land it does bring in catfish, so there should be some good fishing opportunities this weekend. We also have several campgrounds open.”
Hagerman National Wildlife Refuge is another popular outdoor recreation destination affected by Lake Texoma. Wildlife Refuge Manager Kathy Whaley said while there have been a number of amenities closed down due to the weather, she wanted to remind people of what remained open, as of Friday.
“Most of the roads are flooded,” Whaley said. “We are expecting two additional feet of water with the lake rising. The day use area is flooded. There’s not many places you can drive around. Right now the visitor center is still open as is the butterfly garden and the Harris Creek Trail.”
And, if the rains continue additional hiking trails may close, Whaley continued.
“This is the third time in six months we’ve had all the roads flooded,” Whaley said. “It has been a wetter year than usual for us.”
Despite the rain this year, Army Corp. Spokesperson Brannen Parrish said the dam is holding up and doing the job it was designed to do.
“This is the situation the damn was constructed for,” Parrish said. “It is a very challenging task. We will release as much as we can based on the downstream channel. That is the whole purpose of the lake, flood control.”
Parrish cautioned people going out on boats to be weary of underwater debris.
“We ask boaters to be very careful,” Parrish said. “We ask people who are out boating on the lake or trying to swim to keep in mind picnic tables, park benches and other debris may be just below the water where you can’t see it. It is easy to hit a park bench or a concrete picnic table. If you are out on a boat you should have a life jacket in case something does happen.”
As of Friday afternoon the lake elevation was at 625.56 feet and had increased to 625.68 by midday Saturday, according to a report by the Army Corps of Engineers. The report stated the elevation is 9.35 feet above normal and was forecast to reach 627.4 feet by May 18.
Richard A. Todd is the Denison Area Reporter. He can be reached at RTodd@HeraldDemocrat.com.