Winter reprieve brings flooding warning
Thursday, February 20, 2014 10:00 AM
Sunshine and milder temperatures gave us a break from the snowy, harsh winter Wednesday, but that relief will be short-lived.
National Weather Service meteorologists say temperatures that could hit the 50s and 60s today also could bring two other spring-like hazards - high winds and flooding - before temperatures drop into the icebox again next week.
The Madison forecast calls for thunderstorms for most of today with wind gusts up to 45 mph. Rain continues tonight with severe thunderstorms possible.
Friday will see a high in the upper 40s. Highs on Saturday should reach the mid-50s before temperatures begin to drop next week.
Forecasters say up to an inch of rain could fall today and Friday on ground still covered by snow, triggering mild to moderate flooding.
The severity depends on the location.
The northern half of the state could see temperatures in the 50s thaw deep snow that's on the ground, said Lonnie Fisher, a meteorologist at the service's northern Indiana office in North Webster. Snow is still piled 7 to 18 inches deep in some areas and contains up to 4 inches of water. Warm temperatures will cause the snow to melt, and heavy rain will compound the issue because the ground is still frozen and won't be able to absorb the water.
Ice trapped in frozen rivers and streams also will be a problem, because water from the thaw that normally flows into streams won't have anywhere to go.
Fisher said some rivers and lakes in northern Indiana are frozen up to 6 inches deep. "Most areas could see at least some minor flooding," he said.
LaGrange and Huntington counties in northern Indiana said Wednesday that they planned to offer sandbags for residents concerned about flooding.
Wind is a bigger concern in central Indiana, where thunderstorms are expected to roar through tonight, weather service meteorologist Marc Dahmer in Indianapolis said.
Sustained winds of 20 to 25 mph and gusts of 60 mph are likely, he said, and some weak tornadoes are possible.
Forecasters also are keeping an eye on an ice dam on the Wabash River in Carroll County. Weather service hydrologist Al Shipe says the dam is 6 inches deep and stretches for 7 1/2 miles.
"A lot of bad things could happen tomorrow," Dahmer said.
Temperatures are expected to remain in the 40s for a few days, but beginning Sunday they're expected to resume their frigid ways, hitting lows in the teens and highs in the 20s or 30s.