The waves of the usually placid James River are coming very close to the road that leads to Doran Bartscher's rural Mitchell house. Yet as he stands in his driveway and looks out at the mass of water, Bartscher just smiles.
"It's not a threat to me," Bartscher said. "Right now, you just watch the ducks go by."
Bartscher has lived at his current home southeast of Mitchell since 1984. In that time, he's seen his garage -- just across the road from the cold water of the James River -- flooded nearly 10 times.
But his home, located on higher ground, has never been flooded. He planned it that way.
"We're going to get by pretty good," he said.
It appears that for the most part, few homes along the James River are in danger of being overwhelmed by floodwaters in the coming days. According to the National Weather Service, the James has surpassed flood stages throughout the region, but the flooding mostly will be confined to low-lying pastureland.
The James typically sees a spring rise each year, but heavy runoff in the northern part of the valley sent the river out of its banks last week. Locally, Mitchell has received more than 20 inches of snow in the past week.
According to the NWS, the James at Forestburg was at 14.5 feet on Monday, 2.5 feet higher than the area's flood stage. Scotland had surpassed its flood stage of 13 feet by several inches.
In Mitchell, the James River was three feet over its flood stage of 17 feet. Monday afternoon, most roads along the James River near Mitchell remained open, although rushing water prevented travel on 245th Street near Hansen Wheel and Wagon Shop.
Todd Heitkamp, a warning coordination meteorologist for the National Weather Service in Sioux Falls, expects water levels to increase over the upcoming weeks as snow melts and water flows from the north.
The James River at Mitchell is expected to crest at or near 22 feet in the next two weeks, Heitkamp said, while the levels at Scotland could be above 15 feet by Thursday.
Heitkamp credits the current and expected temperatures for keeping the melting process at a reasonable pace.
"Right now, we're dealing with an ideal melting situation where we have temperatures above freezing during the day and then at night we drop down below freezing. That slows things up," Heitkamp said. "You would be dealing with a lot more flooding issues if we had a more rapid warmup than what we have now."
Heitkamp expects high temperatures to approach the 50s in the coming days, but night temperatures should remain below or close enough to freezing to keep the melting process slow.