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Tulsa asks residents near lake to evacuate after increasing water releases from dam

Flooding in Tulsa; courtesy KJRH

(CNN) — Police in Tulsa are going through neighborhoods near the Keystone Lake dam encouraging residents to get out of there in case the area floods due to release of water meant to keep the structure from failing.

The Army Corps of Engineers is releasing 215,000 cubic feet of water per second at the dam because the water is 29 feet above its normal level.

Tulsa Mayor G.T. Bynum tweeted that 215,000 cfs is the minimum rate they can release to keep the water in the reservoir from topping the floodgates. If the floodgates don’t work, the dam could fail, Bynum said.

While that dam is about 20 miles from the city, Tulsa authorities were telling people to be ready to leave their homes quickly if the situation deteriorates.

The warnings came as thunderstorms popped up Wednesday in Oklahoma, Missouri and Kansas.

The western portion of Tulsa was under a severe thunderstorm warning and CNN meteorologist Brandon Miller said storms are capable of dropping heavy rain in a short amount of time, worsening the flood situation quickly.

The showers are part of a deadly spring storm system that has unleashed drenching rain, flash flooding and hail in the central United States — along with more than 130 reports of tornadoes in five days.

The storms have been a factor in at least four deaths.

And there is more bad news for Wednesday as the US Storm Prediction Center has taken the rare step of issuing two tornado watches with warnings that these events are each a “particularly dangerous situation.” Forecasters are concerned over the possibility of violent, long-track tornadoes on Wednesday night.

According to KJRH, shortly after midnight on Wednesday, the Arkansas River went above the flood stage near Tulsa for the first time since 1986.

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