Warmer weather brings flood threat
Star Beacon (Ashtabula, OH), 2014-02-20
Feb. 20--COLUMBUS -- The warm weather Ashtabula County has been waiting has arrived -- along with a flood threat advisory issued by the Ohio Department of Natural Resources.
All the ingredients are in place for potential problems, says the ODNR: plenty of snow and ice on the ground, above-freezing temperatures and a forecast of rain today and tonight.
The big concern is the impact a rapid thaw could have on ice jams the cold weather have created on rivers and streams. Ice jams are blockages either by chunks of ice or a general freeze of the waterway. If ice jams break suddenly, ice and water can be released simultaneously, creating a flood threat.
No problems had been reported in the county by mid-afternoon Wednesday, thanks in part to the start of the thaw ahead of rain, said Mike Fitchet, the county's Emergency Management Agency director. "Some melting (in advance of the rain) has been helpful," he said Wednesday.
Impact may be seen today, tonight and Friday, Fitchet said.
People who live near water sources should take precautions, according to the ODNR:
--Monitor ice conditions and water levels
--Secure structures and materials in high-risk areas
--Create an evacuation plan
--Avoid ice jam areas and do not walk or drive below affected areas
Flooding has already been reported on some waterways across Ohio, including the Grand and Chagrin rivers, according to the ODNR
A storm Monday night and Tuesday morning delivered nearly four inches of snow to the weather station operated by Ron Coursen, a National Weather Service observer in Ashtabula. One foot of snow was on the ground when the thaw began, Coursen said.
Today's forecast calls for high temperatures in the upper 40s, along with rain and thunderstorms that will extend into the evening. Temperatures will climb into the 40s on Friday and the upper 30s on Saturday, which also brings another chance for rain. High temperatures will drop into the upper 20s on Sunday.
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