Warm, wet Wednesday brings potential for flooding to York

Christopher Dornblaser

A little more than a week after Winter Storm Jonas piled more than 2 feet of snow onto York County, residents have yet another weather-related issue to be concerned about.

The Pennsylvania Emergency Management Agency sent out a reminder Monday urging citizens to keep an eye on the weather for possible flooding from snow melt and rain.

Monday, Feb. 1, 2016--A makeshift "no parking" sign was scrawled by a firefighter on a snow bank across from the Vigilant Fire Company. A spokeman for the fire company said the area at West Market St. has a no parking sign, but with the snow emergency it was vital it was heeded so fire equipment could maneuver. Bill Kalina photo

Cause for concern: On Wednesday, rain and a high in the 50s are expected, according to Craig Evanego, meteorologist at the National Weather Service in State College. The rain, in combination with the melting snow, is causing concern for potential flooding.

The National Weather Service has issued a flood watch for Wednesday afternoon through Thursday afternoon.

"That just means the possibility is there," Evanego said.

Evanego said the area is looking to get around an inch to an inch and a quarter of rain Wednesday, which normally wouldn't cause flooding concerns, but with the snow already on the ground and melting, there is cause to worry.

“Probably through a good part of the day on Wednesday, it will be rain,” he said. “It looks like a pretty wet day Wednesday.”

John Gresiak, meteorologist for AccuWeather in State College, said the problem areas for flooding are low-lying areas or areas located near streams or creeks.

The county government isn't very worried about those streams.

“We’re not particularly concerned about the waterways in our area,” said Carl Lindquist, county spokesman.

However, streets and other areas may experience flooding from the rain and snowmelt.

To help alleviate the potential for flooded streets, Lindquist is encouraging residents to clear snow and debris from storm drains.

Other effects: With water on the roads in the winter, there is always chance for icy situations, but the potential for flooding this week should not be much of a concern in terms of ice, according to Gresiak.

“It will be a while before the temperature goes below freezing,” he said. “It won’t drop back below freezing until Thursday.”

The rain might bring something positive, though. With all the snow melting on the ground and warmer weather for Wednesday, the county might be seeing some green grass, currently buried under the snow, earlier than anticipated.

“You might, snow can melt pretty fast in that kind of a situation,” Gresiak said.

Flood preparations: In addition to removing snow and debris from storm drains, other precautions are encouraged as well.

Evanego urged people to not drive through any flooded roadways.

"You never know how deep the water is or how it might have affected the structure of the road beneath the water," he said.

Gresiak urged anyone whose home is prone to flooding to make sure necessary precautions are made.

PEMA also encourages people to have a plan for getting out of their neighborhood as well as maintaining contact with family in case flooding occurs when they are not together.

— Reach Christopher Dornblaser at cdornblaser@yorkdispatch.com.