Monday, September 20, 2004

Ivan to send us high waters

Ohio River to hit flood stage in Cincinnati Tuesday

By Matt Leingang
Enquirer staff writer

Rain unleashed by Hurricane Ivan in the Appalachians last week will cause the Ohio River in Cincinnati to reach the 52-foot flood stage Tuesday.

Most of the heavy rains were confined to regions of West Virginia and Pennsylvania, said Mike Gallagher, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service office in Wilmington.

Sunday's river level in Cincinnati measured about 44 feet. The river is expected to hit 52 feet around 8 a.m. Tuesday, crest at 52.8 feet Wednesday and then begin a gradual descent. If the river does reach flood stage, it's believed it will be the first time that's happened here in September, said Scott Young, a hydrologist with the National Weather Service.

The U.S. Coast Guard is already advising recreational boaters to stay off the river, a spokeswoman said.

"Experienced boaters don't normally go out in conditions like this," said Rick Wolfson, president of Four Seasons Marina in Cincinnati. "You're fighting a strong current and a lot of debris, which could cause a lot of damage to your boat."

Restaurants along the river, including Mike Fink in Covington, have lost some of their parking spaces closest to the shore. "We're floating on our lower parking lot right now," said Julie Rizzo, assistant manager there.

But restaurant parking is still available in an upper parking lot, Rizzo said.

"Some people think they can't get in when the river comes up, and that can affect business," Rizzo said. Only if the river tops out above 54 feet does the Mike Fink close, she said.

Riverbend Music Center is hosting a concert Thursday night by country artist Toby Keith, but it wasn't clear Sunday whether the flood would affect that. Riverbend officials could not be reached for comment.

The river could still be as high as 52 feet Thursday morning, according to the forecast. Riverbend's backstage and pavilion areas can flood when the river rises to extremely high levels.



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