Opal Wapoo Organizers Address Flooding Concerns

As the 2019 Opal Wapoo Gravel Grinder approaches, event organizers are faced with flooding which affects parts of the course. The Missouri River flooding that closed highways and water traffic north of St. Joseph continued to make its way toward the south and is now inundating low-lying areas of the course.

The U.S. Coast Guard has shut down all water traffic from St. Joseph almost to Omaha and has asked boat operators to limit their wake between St. Joseph and Kansas City to minimize damage to the levees that keep flooding at bay.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration predicts the river will crest above major flood stage in Atchison, Kan., and just below that stage in Leavenworth and areas further south.

In Kansas City, where banks and levees are higher, it’s projected to crest at 32.4 feet, which is just above “minor” flood stage. Any roads or buildings that are along the Missouri River or its tributaries may be be affected. The river last reached a similar level in May 2016. The projections for the current flood, at least in Kansas City, are nowhere near the historic flood of 1993, the worst in the city’s history, when the river crested at 48.87 feet.

“Our thoughts are with those affected by this year’s flooding”, said race organizers in a recent Facebook Post. “There is a small stretch of our 100 mile course that is currently under water. We are aware that there is danger of flooding through May. Waters are receding and we will keep an eye on the course and we already have an alternate 100 mile course that eliminates the river flats if needed. Luckily time is on our side.”

Even though it is only in its second year, the Opal Wapoo Gravel Grinder has exploded in popularity and has attracted riders and enthusiasts from all across the country. The event is held in conjunction with the Excelsior Springs WaterFest.

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