Withlacoochee water level continues to rise

Flooding is expected at the Withlacoochee River near Dunnellon and Floral City (Sheriff's Office photo on September 23, 2017)

The Citrus County Sheriff's Office reported on Saturday that, due to rainfall and other factors caused by Hurricane Irma, the Withlacoochee River water level continues to rise. 

Water is already reported around and in homes near Istachatta and Trails End Road in Floral City, the CCSO  said, and points to the north, including Arrowhead, are subject to increased water level and potential flooding. 

It is estimated that the river at Arrowhead will reach 8 feet by Wednesday morning at 8 a.m. That depth can allow water to approach foundations, not to mention flood roadways. It is possible the water could rise even further but at this time it is unclear how much. The Sheriff's Office advises: "Do not drive through standing water, as you may not know the true depth. Turn Around, Don’t Drown!"

Residents in those high-water locations are advised to be aware of power lines, and do not walk through water where power lines may be down or near other electrical systems to prevent electrocution. "It is important that you monitor the river and take protective measures to life and property," a statement from the CCSO released on Saturday said. 

Evacuation may be required. If you require sheltering in the event of evacuation, call the Sheriff’s Office at 352-726-1121 so arrangements can be made. Sandbag locations will be open at 1 p.m. beginning today. The sandbag sites are located at East Spruce Drive Boat Ramp in Dunnellon and at the East Citrus Community Center on Hwy 44 East in Inverness. 

Due to the nature of water flow and other hydrological conditions, the amount of water and flooding depth can change, meaning more or less water depth, so it is important that residents monitor media outlets and the Sheriff’s Office Facebook page often.

Residents in areas subject to flooding are also advised to not wait to have a plan, but to plan now, the CCSO said.

River forecast from the National Weather Service (NWS) in Tampa

Meanwhile, on Saturday morning, the National Weather Service in Tampa issued a Flood Warning for the Withlacoochee At Holder.

"Very heavy rain fell last week as Hurricane Irma passed by the area, and extensive flooding recently occurred upstream on the Withlacoochee River due to the heavy rain falling in the headwaters," the NWS said.

This water has slowly routed downstream, and will now bring rises to the river in northern Citrus County through next week,  with minor flooding likely to begin early in the week. Subsequently, the NWS has issued a Flood Warning for the Withlacoochee At Holder from Monday afternoon until further notice.

At 10 a.m. Saturday, the stage was 7.5 feet, and it should be noted that flood stage is 8.0 feet. Minor flooding is forecast at first, but the water level will eventually rise to flood stage.

The Weather Service said the river is forecast to rise above flood stage by Monday early afternoon and continue to rise to near 8.3 feet by Wednesday evening. Additional rises are possible thereafter.

If the river rises to 9.0 feet, the Weather Service said, a level of 9.0 feet in the Arrowhead subdivision will bring water into homes. At 8.0 feet, the water will approach house foundations in Arrowhead subdivision.