Some Oklahoma Parks Face High Water Woes
With nine of Oklahoma’s 50 state parks partially underwater, tourism officials are just as fed up with the pre-Memorial Day weather forecast as are boaters, campers and skiers who have waited months for a three-day outing.
Monday afternoon (May 11), the Oklahoma state parks’ website listed several campsites, recreational vehicle sites, boat ramps and parts of two golf courses closed due to high water, according to the Oklahoma City Oklahoman. Memorial Day weekend is May 23-25.
“Memorial Day is one of our three biggest weekends of the year,” said Hardy Watkins, executive director of the Oklahoma Tourism and Recreation Department. “And this type of forecast certainly can have a detrimental impact on the number of people we can house, and a detrimental impact on our budget situation.”
And while Watkins said “a lot can happen” in two weeks, the immediate forecast for some of the most saturated parts of the state indicates more rain for the rest of the week.
“The reality is that there will be some impact to the Memorial Day holiday,” Watkins said, adding that parks officials are monitoring conditions at the parks on a day-to-day, and in some cases, an hour-by-hour basis.
On the up side, Watkins said, none of the state parks are completely closed. And after weeks of being cooped up, people might be willing to tolerate the extra water just to get out in the woods, he said.
“”We expect somewhere between 700,000 and 800,000 people this Memorial Day weekend,” he said.
Watkins said lodges and cabins are not affected by the flooding, which is typically limited to primitive campgrounds and some RV sites.
Many lakefront RV sites and picnic and rest room areas are built to withstand and quickly recover from flooding, Watkins said, and if camp sites can be opened, they will be.
“At this point, I think it’s way too early to say that Memorial Day’s a washout,” he said. “Because I don’t think it will be.”