The January thaw is here.
But because the ground is still frozen, and we had up to two feet of snow this week, the melting snow and rain that is coming may cause some flooding.
The National Weather Service has issued a flood watch for seven Western New York counties: Erie, Genesee, Wyoming, Chautauqua, Cattaraugus, Allegany and Livingston. The flood watch runs from early Saturday through Sunday afternoon.
Temperatures today should reach a high of around 40 degrees, National Weather Service Meteorologist Dan Kelly said.
“With temperatures being that high above freezing,” Kelly said, “that will result in considerable melting.”
The thermometer will approach 50 degrees Saturday, with even more melting. Add rain to that – there could be one-quarter to a half inch of rain overnight tonight and again Saturday – and streams and creeks could be in for some flooding.
Because the ground is frozen, the melting snow and rain won’t be absorbed into the earth, the water will make its way to creeks and streams, which are covered with ice.
Kelly said that could result in a rapid rise in the water, which lifts up the ice cover and carries it down stream, where it might jam up at bends or bridges.
An ice jam was reported Thursday on the Allegany River near Salamanca and Allegany State Park, he said. While the river is well below flood stage, “if that jam does not clear, we may have some issues,” Kelly said.
Sunday’s high will be in the mid-30s, and Monday will reach the mid-40s. Tonight’s low will be about 37, and Saturday and Sunday nights’ lows will be around 32 degrees, Kelly said.
“If people live near creeks and streams, just be aware and be prepared to move to higher ground,” Kelly said.
He suggested making sure there is enough gas in the car, and to stay away from water covering the road.
“If you’re out traveling and driving, and you encounter water in the road, do not go through it,” he said. “You don’t know if the road is still there.”