While the levels of many area lakes are down slightly for this Labor Day holiday weekend, conditions should be fine for campers and recreation, an official said.
“I don’t think we’re in bad shape,” said Brannen Parrish, public affairs specialist for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ Tulsa District.
“It’s nice to not be in a flood status as in previous years,” he said.
Campers, boaters and others typically begin arriving as early as Wednesday or Thursday for holiday weekends such as the one coming up, he said.
Parrish said that typically, while the Labor Day weekend will see many people at area lakes, the weekend usually is not as busy as Memorial Day weekend or July 4.
“Camping is definitely a cultural thing, especially in Oklahoma,” he said. “We’re happy to be able to provide that.”
The Corps’ Tulsa District administers about 30 sites, including Keystone, Skiatook, Oologah, Heyburn, Tenkiller, Fort Gibson and Eufaula lakes.
Parrish said most areas will be open to the public, with the exception of the area just below Keystone Dam near Sand Springs — a popular spot for fishing — which will be closed due to ongoing construction. That work is expected to be finished by December, he said.
August was drier than average this year in Oklahoma, state climatologist Gary McManus said Wednesday. The statewide average precipitation total for the month was 2.44 inches, 0.79 inches below normal, he said.
Tulsa had 0.78 inches of rain for the month, well below the average of 3.38 inches, according to the National Weather Service.
So far this year, Tulsa has received slightly less rain — 27.93 inches as of Thursday — than the normal of 28.49 inches for the date.
The weather this weekend is expected to be mixed, according to the weather service.
Highs Friday and Saturday are expected to be in the mid-to upper-90s, with chances of rain and storms on Saturday afternoon and Saturday night.
Highs are expected to be in the mid-80s on Sunday and near 90 on Monday, forecasters said.
“Hot and humid conditions will continue on Friday with afternoon heat index values around 105 degrees. Thunderstorm chances spread into areas near the Oklahoma-Kansas border Friday night and slowly spread southward Saturday into Sunday,” forecasters said.
“A few strong storms and locally heavy rainfall will be possible Saturday evening through the overnight hours. Temperatures will cool to nearer early September normals once the cold front passes.”
Meanwhile, officials are urging people on the water to wear personal floatation devices and behave in a responsible manner.
“Whether visiting GRDA’s Grand Lake, Lake Hudson, or the scenic Illinois River, it is important to remember that enjoyable outings always start with boating — and floating — safe, smart and sober,” the Grand River Dam Authority said in a news release.
“Labor Day weekend is a great opportunity for many water enthusiasts to visit the lake or the river,” said GRDA corporate spokesperson Justin Alberty.
“We encourage them to come out and have a great time but also to remember that great time starts with wearing a life jacket and using common sense on the water.”
Featured video: Teen angler takes record paddlefish at Oklahoma’s Keystone Lake