Heavy rain prompts water release from Lake Okeechobee

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Water from Lake Okeechobee will be released starting Friday, according to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

The discharges will be done this weekend after heavy rain and storms caused water levels to rise, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers said.

This month broke the record for May with over a foot of rain, according to WINK News Chief Meteorologist Jim Farrell.

The lake is currently above where it was when Hurricane Irma struck in September 2017, according to Col. Jason Kirk, Jacksonville District commander. This eventually caused the water level to exceed 17 feet.

“Historic rain across the region since the middle of May has caused the lake to rise more than a foot,” Kirk said. “We have to be prepared for additional water that could result from a tropical system.”

Shelly Kai, a hostess at the Sunset Tropical Grill on Fort Myers Beach, said the water released from Lake Okeechobee has really hurt the business in years past.

“It’s bad for everybody. It’s bad for tourism, it’s bad for for all the local businesses and it’s not good for a paycheck either,” Kai said.

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers worries more rain could push the aging dikes to its limits. For every foot of rain, the lake level rises three to six inches.

Kai said her coworkers are already coming up with ways to stay afloat when all that dirty water makes it to shore.

“Unfortunately, we can’t control the weather in Florida,” Kai said.

To view an hourly forecast, click here. 

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