Lake Okeechobee‘s water level is at 12.52 feet above sea level on Friday. That is over one foot higher than it was before Tropical Storm Fay crossed the lake.
The South Florida Water Management District said at least 6 inches fell on the lake. And it will continue to rise as stormwater run-off from the Kissimmee River flows into the lake.
The SFWMD Web site, www.sfwmd.gov, indicated Okeechobee could rise to 12.80 feet in the next two weeks. That would be a total of about 1.76 feet as a result of Fay.
The lake was 2 1/2 feet below normal even after the 6 inches of rain fell, but a really good level for the lake.
Enjoying a last day off before school starts, kids used dip nets to scoop up catfish that swam into roadside drainage ditches during the storm, said Phillip Black of the Pioneer Estates neighborhood, off County Road 15A. Not far off, Bobby Hays, 11, Dakota Bond, 11, and Danny Hays, 7, rode skim boards in puddles left by Fay. Lake Okeechobee’s water level has risen half a foot, to 11.8 feet above sea level, and is expected to rise as water flows into the lake from the north.“We all are pretty excited,” about the lake level and the forecast for this winters fishing on Lake Okeechobee, said Lake Okeechobee fishing guide Mark Shepard of Clewiston, Florida. “We’ve had not seen the lake look this good in a couple of seasons. We need this, it is exciting.”
Around Lake Okeechobee, residents cleaned up some fallen tree limbs, fired up generators and patched roofs, after Fay walloped the north and west sides of the big lake as it crossed Florida. Among the highest damage estimates around the lake was on the east side, in Pahokee, where roof damage to city hall and sewer system damage clocked in at $1.5 million.
Flooding forced the closing of State Road 29 between Palmdale and LaBelle. A detour routed motorists around flooded lanes Wednesday along a short section of U.S. 27 south of Palmdale.
Even though water has been flowing hard through the Kissimmee River, weirs and other water-control structures in the river were not damaged by Fay, said Randy Smith, spokesman for the South Florida Water Management District.
No problems with the Herbert Hoover Dike, with flood-control structures around the lake or with lake navigation were found following inspections Wednesday, said Steve Dunham, chief of the South Florida office for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers in Clewiston.