INDIAN RIVER, Mich. (AP) – Melting of abundant winter snowfall and rains are expected to result in high water levels in many of Michigan’s rivers this spring, creating flooding and affecting recreation.

The National Weather Service  issued flood watches or warnings Wednesday across much of the southern Lower Peninsula. Some road closures were reported in Midland, Bay and Saginaw counties, and floods were expected in other parts of the state.

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Faster, more dangerous conditions are possible for rafters and kayakers due to the water levels. Conditions may become less than ideal for rafting along the Sturgeon River, where Big Bear Adventures in Indian River operates its tubing and rafting service.

“When the water gets 12 inches above normal we don’t run any trips,” Jamie Jacklitch, outdoor recreation manager for Big Bear Adventures, told the Cheboygan Daily Tribune.

With high water, overhanging branches and trees that normally drape a foot or so above rafters’ heads also are at eye-level.
“It gets a lot pushier out there when the river gets high,” said Jacklitch. “One thing about the Sturgeon River is it rises very quickly.”

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The National Weather Service has forecast a wetter than average spring.

“They’re calling for a high than normal precipitation across the region this spring,” said Tim Locker, a meteorologist with the weather service in Gaylord.

Higher river levels come as levels across most of the Great Lakes are likely to remain well below average for the next six months. That forecast by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers means continued hardships for commercial vessels and tourist towns that cater to recreational boaters.

Officials said earlier that melting snow won’t be nearly enough to offset years of declining Great Lakes levels brought on by drought and stepped-up evaporation amid warming temperatures.

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