Thursday, September 3, 2015

Major flooding possible

River ice has been slow to melt, and that might mean trouble tomorrow.

Major flooding possible


After two relatively uneventful winters, nature evidently is making up for lost time.

This morning, the region endured a surprisingly vigorous icing that precipitated countless accidents, including at least one fatality.

Ice was the issue in Jersey, and on the Pennsylvania side, a coating of snow preceding the freezing rain helped create a treacherous road slurry.

Now the region might confront its most-serious widespread winter flooding event in recent years.

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The rivers and streams are jammed with ice, and the chill that has been more-tenacious than expected hasn’t helped much.

“I don’t think we got rid of too much ice today,” said Gary Szatkowski, meteorologist in charge of the National Weather Service Office in Mount Holly. “We’re concerned about the major rivers.”

A flood watch has been posted for the entire region from 11 a.m. Saturday until daybreak Sunday.

Temperatures are forecast to soar toward 60 tomorrow, and areas right along the Delaware are in the zone where the most rain – perhaps up to 2 inches – is forecast.

Runoff will be a major problem, Szatkowski said, as the ground will remain frozen an inch or two below the surface.

Flooding can occur in a hurry behind ice jams, even in waterways well below flood stage.  “Rivers could rapidly rise to moderate or major flooding levels behind an ice jam with little or no warning,” the weather service said in today’s briefing.

Flooding is possible downstream once the water breaks loose.

The winters of 2010-11 and 2012-13 never looked so good.

Inquirer Weather Columnist
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Everyone talks about the weather, and here we write about it.

When we’re around and conditions warrant, we’ll keep you updated about what’s coming, but we will do our best always to discuss weather and climate developments in context and remind you that nothing in the atmosphere happens in a vacuum.

Tony Wood has been writing about the atmosphere for The Inquirer for 26 years.

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