Holiday weekend gets off to a soggy start; MVC baseball title game postponed

Mother Nature is proving to be a real wet blanket this Memorial Day weekend.

Steady rains that were light Saturday morning and heavier through the afternoon kept boaters off the water at the state park lakes near Cheney and El Dorado all day, park officials said.

It kept baseball players off the field, too, as the Missouri Valley Conference title game between Bradley and Missouri State was postponed until 9 a.m. Sunday.

“It’s been raining continually here today,” Dana Smith, a summer office assistant at Cheney State Park, said Saturday afternoon. “I would say the day use (of the lake) is pretty well close to zero.”

Campers even had to endure the loss of electricity for a few hours after a power outage hit the Cheney area for a short time, Smith said.

“I got several phone calls” from unhappy campers about that, he said.

By Saturday evening, Wichita had logged 1.82 inches of rain, according to the National Weather Service. That boosted the precipitation total for the month to 10.3 inches, making 2015 the fourth-wettest May on record in Wichita.

More rain is expected Sunday, said Vanessa Pearce, a meteorologist with the weather service. With just another 0.04 of an inch, May 2015 will move to third-wettest in the record book.

Some people were braving the soggy weather at Cheney State Park, Smith said, even in the primitive sites with no utility hook-ups.

“They have a lot of tarps and tents up,” he said.

Campers at El Dorado were enduring muddy conditions, too. A park ranger had to track down one motorist who got stuck in the mud Saturday afternoon.

“It’s looking kinda ugly” out at the primitive campsites, park manager Seth Turner said.

While the campsites with utilities available are about 85 percent full, Turner said, there weren’t many people in the primitive sites.

“There’s a few doing their darnedest to stick it out, but I don’t think they’re going to last,” he said.

Boaters at Cross Timbers State Park and Fall River State Park caught a break, with the rainy weather staying away for much of Saturday.

However, “Our campgrounds are not full,” park manager Kim Jones said. “I do think it was a direct effect of the weather.”

Water levels at both lakes are about 15 feet above normal, Jones said. More than 2 inches of rain is being predicted for later this holiday weekend in the drainage basins for the lakes.

Some rainfall estimates approach 5 inches. If that were to happen, “it will start impacting campsites at Fall River,” Jones said.

She will be monitoring rainfall and lake levels to see whether park employees need to remove picnic tables and breaker boxes from campgrounds.

“If that means I call my staff out at midnight, then that’s what I’ll do,” Jones said.

While sporadic street flooding was reported around Wichita in areas that commonly flood during heavy rains, a Sedgwick County emergency dispatcher reported no cases of cars stalled in high waters.

Traffic in general was light across the metropolitan area, the dispatcher said.

“We don’t expect any break from the clouds – not until late Monday,” said weather service forecaster Ken Cook.

The best chances for rain on Monday will be east and southeast of the Kansas Turnpike. Turner clung to optimism that better weather on Monday will bring people out to the lake even if just for a day.

“Hopefully, it’ll dry up,” he said.

Reach Stan Finger at 316-268-6437 or Follow him on Twitter: @StanFinger.