The South Platte River is starting to overflow in western Nebraska as Colorado floodwater flows into the state. Officials say the river rose to a record level of 10.46 feet Wednesday morning at Julesburg, Colorado near the Nebraska border.
Flooding is expected along the South Platte that runs parallel to Interstates 76 and 80. The river measured 1.6 feet deep near Roscoe Wednesday morning. By Thursday afternoon, it's expected to reach 12.5 feet deep, breaking the old record of 11.3 feet. At North Platte, the river is expected to rise from the current 5.3 feet to 13.9 feet on Saturday.
Most of the land at risk is rural with few homes, but floodwater could affect Union Pacific. The railroad is already repairing flood-damaged tracks in Colorado and working to protect its main line crossing Nebraska.
UP spokesman Mark Davis says flooding damaged about 20 miles of its line west over the mountains out of Denver and damaged another 19 miles of track between Denver and Cheyenne, Wyoming. Davis says the north-south track is expected to reopen Wednesday afternoon, but the line over the mountains will likely be closed for repairs until October 1st. UP is rerouting the 10 trains a day that normally use that line and Amtrak is busing passengers over the mountains.
In Nebraska, UP raised seven miles of track near Ogallala four inches and piled rock along tracks between Julesburg and Big Springs.
Flooding is expected later this week in Maxwell, North Platte and Brady. A North Platte Menards store sold out of its supply of 3,000 sandbags in one day. It has ordered 20,000 more.
Nebraska Emergency Management Agency spokeswoman Jodie Fawl says this flood has been difficult to predict because of broken gauges in Colorado. The forecast should become clearer as the water is measured in Nebraska.