Flooding could be new weather threat

WELLSVILLE, Ohio (WKBN) — Our team of meteorologists is forecasting warmer temperatures in the coming days and that could cause some problems when combined with rain.

The National Weather Service is estimating the soils across the area are frozen at a depth of 6 to 8 inches below the surface. That ice will not allow any of the liquid trapped in the snow to easily enter the ground.

The water trapped in the snowpack will become runoff and enter the streams and rivers. Those streams already have ice on them, which could cause ice jam flooding.

“That shore ice that’s anchored on the banks of the rivers tends to break up because the water level is moving up and the ice breaks loose and you have these big chunks of ice moving downstream,” said Joe Palko, a hydrologist with the National Weather Service in Pittsburgh.

The National Weather Service, Army Corps of Engineers, and Coast Guard are working together in monitoring this potential threat.

“It all depends on the amount of snow melt we get, how long it lasts, the rain amounts. If it’s only minimal amounts of rain next week then maybe we won’t have that big a problem but it’s something to be cautious of,” Palko said.

One spot our meteorologist team is monitoring is Wellsville. The Army Corps said they are watching additional ice enter the Ohio River.

“The difficulty is and the uncertainty is where exactly are we going to have problems because ice is extremely difficult to forecast and when,” said Werner Loehlein, chief of the water management section for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers in Pittsburgh.

The National Weather Service said flood warnings from ice jams can only be issued after they are spotted.

“Anybody that’s living along any stream or creek or river over the next 10 days or so should be wary of ice jams,” Palko said.

Residents are urged to stay alert if they live near any flowing water, even a small one that does not normally flood.

“The smaller streams and creeks are not as deep and the ice is easily broken away,” Palko said.

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