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Melting snow and coming rain expected to cause flooding problems in region

By Jim Carney
Beacon Journal staff writer

And now the thaw begins.

After what was the biggest 24-hour snowfall amount many Akron-area communities had all winter, the snow on the ground will begin to melt.

The melting snow — well over a foot in many locations — combined with expected heavy rain Thursday could cause some serious flooding problems, said Kristen Schepel, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Cleveland.

“We are looking at the potential for flash floods, river floods, ice jams and a real [long-term] flooding starting Thursday,” she said.

The storm Monday through Tuesday morning dumped anywhere from five to more than 8 inches across the region.

Schepel said the snow pack at the Akron-Canton Airport now is 10 inches.

“What we are finding is the liquid equivalent of the snow pack is anywhere from an inch and a half to 2 inches,” she said. “That is a lot of water.”

With the possibility of the temperature rising to 50 degrees or warmer on Thursday, Schepel said, “that will help melt that snow pack.”

At the same time, she said, a low pressure system will bring a cold front into the region and that will bring rain.

“We will see rain starting Thursday morning and lasting into Friday and are expecting some thunderstorms Thursday evening and the rain we get will exacerbate the snow melt.”

With heavy rain expected at times, she said, “you have a lot of water coming out of the sky and a lot of water on the ground and it has to go somewhere.”

Add to that ice on rivers and streams and the picture gets even more problematic.

“Most rivers are ice-covered now so that water going into the rivers will cause not only the river to rise, but the ice to break up, which leads to ice jams,” she said.

“We are not certain of the severity of the flooding, but we are pretty confident there will be flooding, at least minor flooding.”

The snow resulted in hundreds of schools being closed Tuesday for thousands of students in Northeast Ohio.

National Weather Service snow observers reported 12-hour storm totals ranging from 8 inches in Twinsburg to 6 inches in Stow to 7.4 inches in Lodi in Medina County and 7 inches in West Akron. Three inches were measured at the Akron-Canton Airport.

Prior to the latest snowstorm, the most snowfall in a single day this winter occurred two days before Thanksgiving on Nov. 26, when 5.6 inches fell at the Akron-Canton Airport.

Not including Tuesday’s snowfall, the National Weather Service reported 57.7 inches of snow had fallen this year, as measured at the Akron-Canton Airport.

Gusty winds combined with snow made road conditions treacherous Tuesday morning as motorists dodged both cars in snow drifts and numerous minor crashes.

Numerous communities instituted parking bans so plows could clear the roadways and Medina and Wayne counties instituted snow emergencies urging residents to stay home.

Dozens of flights were canceled or delayed at Cleveland Hopkins International Airport and a small number of flights were affected at Akron-
Canton Airport on Tuesday.

More than 9,000 FirstEnergy customers were without power in the region at one point early Tuesday.

This winter has not only been snowy, but also cold.

There have been 10 days when the temperature dropped to below zero this winter, including four days in February and six in January.

So far in February, the average temperature is 19.3 degrees — or 8.6 degrees below normal. January was 5.4 degrees below normal. December was 1.1 degree above normal.

Jim Carney can be reached at 330-996-3576 or jcarney@thebeaconjournal.com.



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