Slow melt: Best way to avoid spring floods

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — All of the snow piles, the end result of one of the snowiest, coldest winters we’ve seen in a long time, are finally starting to melt.

The ground is still cold, and it is too soon for grass and other vegetation to start popping up and soak up some of the run off.

That’s why a slow melt, like the one on Friday, is a best case scenario to avoid a repeat of last year’s historical flooding.

“I know the folks don’t like the continued cold trend, but from a flooding standpoint, it’s a blessing in disguise,” says National Weather Service Hydrologist Mark Walton.

generic Grand River Ducks Ice

This weather trend is also helping to break up and melt the ice on rivers, like the Grand, and reducing ice jam dangers.

However, there is still a lot of snow on the ground and spring rains are just around the corner.

“We’re still nervous about that because the longer we go into the spring season with the snow pack, sooner or later you know, it’s gonna switch and we’re going to get into more thunderstorm activity and heavy rainfall and if that snow is still around when we get the heavy rainfall, then that really ramps up the flood threat,” says Walton.

“In a typical season, we’re looking at maybe 15 – 20% chance of minor flooding. This year, we’re looking at 50 – 90% chance of minor flooding on a lot of our rivers.”

Local emergency management officials aren’t letting their guard down. Last April’s floods are still on their minds and agendas. Kent County Emergency Management Director Jack Stewart has been meeting with officials in Grand Rapids and other communities hit by the 2013 floods.

Sandbags and other emergency supplies are at the ready.

Agencies from the American Red Cross to the Kent County Animal Shelter have updated plans to deal with flooding.

Stewart hopes citizens will follow the county’s lead when it comes to being prepared.

“Floods usually don’t sneak up on us, at least here in West Michigan. We get several days, if not weeks, of warnings. Make your plans now.”

ON THE WEB:

http://www.ready.gov/floods

http://www.fema.gov/plan-prepare-mitigate

http://www.redcross.org/prepare/disaster/flood

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