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Snowpack, forecast bring flooding concerns

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By Bob Steenson, 

There is a greater than 50 percent chance that Charles City will experience major flooding in the coming weeks as melting snow and ice combine with spring rains, according to the latest forecast from the National Weather Service.

Some of that could begin as early as this week.

“A strong storm developing over the Central Plains will draw spring-time warmth into the area for midweek, with temperatures warming well into the 40s and even lower 50s by Wednesday and Thursday,” NWS said in a forecast issued Monday.

“With several days of warmth, extensive snow melt is expected, with some areas likely to lose much of the existing snow on the ground by Thursday afternoon.”

The National Weather Service issued a flood watch for Floyd and area counties fofr Wednesday and Thursday.

The forecast for Charles City is for temperatures in the high 30s Tuesday, in the high 40s Wednesday and the lower 40s Thursday. In addition, rain is in the forecast from Tuesday through Thursday, when the temperature is expected to turn colder again and the rain possibly turning to snow Thursday night and Friday.

The National Weather Service said storms Wednesday night could bring an inch or more of rain.

“The combination of snowmelt and rainfall will lead to rises along streams and rivers through late week, with some flooding possible depending on the amount of
precipitation that occurs. The break-up of ice on rivers could also heighten the risk for flooding,” NWS said.

“In cities and towns, the effects of snowmelt and runoff will be quicker and more easily noticeable if storm drains and drainage ways are clogged by snow and ice. Ponding of water in intersections and low areas may quickly develop in many communities.”

Those residing near waterways are encouraged to pay close attention to conditions this week, and be prepared to take action if flooding either develops or is forecast to develop, the weather service said.

The long-range NWS flood forecast shows a 54 percent chance that the Cedar River at Charles City will reach major flood stage this spring. Major flood stage is defined as 18 feet.

There is a 70 percent chance it will reach moderate flood stage, 15 feet, during March, April or May, and an 85 percent chance it will reach minor flood stage, 12½ feet, according to the National Weather Service predictions.

There’s even a tiny chance — currently estimated between 1 percent and 2 percent — that the Cedar River could set a new record crest, topping the 25.33 feet established June 9, 2008.