no avatar

Flooding fears rise along with temperatures

TNS Regional News • Feb 19, 2014 at 11:30 AM

Mountains of snow line parking lots and curbs, monuments to a savage winter.

And when they start to melt, these towers of snow and ice can bring their own chaos.

A warming trend is expected throughout Ohio the second half of the week.

Temperatures may top 50 degrees on Thursday. Rain combined with snow melt might produce flooding in parts of Huron County and the surrounding areas, especially Thursday night into Friday morning, according to the National Weather Service in Cleveland. Ice jam flooding also is possible, especially in the flood-prone areas that include the mouths of rivers emptying into Lake Erie. Ice would likely back up on the rivers due to ice cover on Lake Erie.

Forecasts for rain could mean even more trouble, said Chris Bradley, chief meteorologist for Columbus television station WBNS-TV.

"I worry that flooding could be a concern," he said.

Thunderstorms with damaging winds will be possible Thursday night in Huron County and the surround areas as a strong cold front crosses the area, the weather service said.

Meteorologists measure the flooding potential using core samples -- tubes inserted in the snow, from surface to ground level. The contents are melted to produce a "snow-water equivalent," a true measure of what's on the ground.

Port Columbus received more than 10 inches of snow on Feb. 5, the equivalent of about 2 inches of rain.

During a quick thaw, "It would be like an inch of rain falling in a six-hour period," said Jim Lott, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Wilmington.

Unlike during a summer rain, however, the ground can't absorb the precipitation. "You'd have a one-two punch of problems," Lott said.

One of nature's solutions is evaporation, also known as sublimation. It happens when ice crystals disappear under low relative humidity at temperatures below freezing, according to the National Weather Service.

"If we have a number of sunny, dry days, then we could see significant amounts of sublimation," said Jay Hobgood, director of Ohio State University's atmospheric-sciences program.

He likens the effect to a "frost-free refrigerator, which tends to suck the moisture out, causing ice cubes to shrink."

As much as a half-inch of water has been lost since last week, according to some snow-water equivalent readings.

Scientists can't accurately determine how much of that is lost to the air versus ground, Hobgood said.

Either way, any reduction might ease flooding.

EDITOR'S NOTE: The Norwalk Reflector staff contributed to this article.


By Dean Narciso - The Columbus Dispatch, Ohio (MCT)

(c)2014 The Columbus Dispatch (Columbus, Ohio)

Visit The Columbus Dispatch (Columbus, Ohio) at www.dispatch.com

Distributed by MCT Information Services

Recommended for You