By MORGAN MANNS
As warmer temperatures creep into the area, they bring with them the threat of rain showers and possible flooding.
According to the National Weather Service, a 90 percent chance of rain has been predicted for Thursday with possible snow and/or freezing rain. Strong thunderstorms with damaging winds are also possible.
According to Seneca County Public Safety Administrator Dan Stahl, the damaging winds criteria for any severe thunderstorm is 58 mph or stronger.
“Thunderstorms are a dangerous event,” Stahl said. “Stay indoors and away from windows. Watch the local weather stations and be prepared for power outages or flooding.”
Rainfall is expected to accumulate .75 inches Thursday and another .25 to .5 inches expected Thursday night, in addition to melting snow.
According to the NWS, at least 90 percent of the accumulated snow will melt quickly as temperatures reach the lower 50′s today.
Flash floods and river floods are likely; however, the severity of flooding is undetermined. The potential for flooding is highly dependent on how much rainfall occurs and how fast the snow melts, according to the NWS.
Stahl said the amount of flooding will vary with the amount of stored water equivalency in the snow, which is the amount of water that will be created from the snow once it melts.
According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, Natural Resources Conservation Service, ten inches of snow is generally equivalent to one inch of rain, depending on the density of the snow. Light and loose snow makes less water, while dense and slushy snow creates more water when melted.
“The biggest thing is consideration,” Stahl said. “Three quarters of an inch doesn’t sound like a lot but on top of frozen ground with a lot of stored water equivalency, we’re looking at the possibility of major flooding. Be aware of the situation — if things start to flood, evacuate the location.”
He said different kinds of flooding are possible, including river, small creeks, and surface flooding, as well as basement flooding.
Ohio Lt. Governor and Insurance Director Mary Taylor offered information and tips for Ohioans as warmer temperatures and rain increase the risk for flooding across Ohio in a press release.
“After several snowstorms and little to no thawing because of the bitter cold, this week’s warmer temperatures bring an increased risk for flooding,” Taylor said. “If your property is impacted by flooding, first make sure you and your family are safe before assessing the damage. Those who have experienced a loss to their property or possessions should contact their insurance company or agent.”
Damage caused by rain, hail, lightning and tornadoes are generally covered by standard homeowner, renter and business insurance policies, and an auto insurance policy’s “comprehensive” or “other than collision” coverage. Flood insurance is not included in typical insurance policies, according to the release.
People should regularly review their need for flood insurance because there is a 30-day waiting period for coverage to start, Taylor said in the release.
For those who have suffered storm damage:
• Call your insurance agent or company as soon as possible. Be sure your agent knows how to contact you, especially if you have to move out of your home.
• Take reasonable steps to prevent additional damage if permitted by public safety authorities and if you will not endanger yourself.
• Closely inspect property and cars for damage. Note and photograph any damage.
• If required to, seek temporary housing, check your policy for “loss of use” coverage.
• Be sure everything is considered in your claim. Back up claims with written estimates.
Flood insurance is made available by the federal National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) at www.floodsmart.gov and is purchased through an insurance agent.
For more information on insurance, call the Department’s consumer hotline at 1-800-686-1526 or visit www.insurance.ohio.gov.
As of 4 p.m. Wednesday, Seneca, Hancock and Wood counties issued an areal flood watch until 10 a.m. Friday.
According to a press release from Safety Service Director Allyson Murray, Fostoria’s four-person Sewer Maintenance Crew is “working diligently to clear the drains that are covered with snow and ice” in an effort to minimize the risk for flooding. With more than thousands of them throughout the city, officials are asking that residents check drains in their neighborhoods, and if possible, clear them of any accumulation.
For those not physically able to clear them, report the covered drains to the mayor’s office at 419-435-8282.
A slight chance of precipitation is possible for early Friday morning but will taper off by 9 a.m., leaving a small breeze and sunny skies with highs near 40 degrees.
A cold front will again hit the area this weekend with temperatures averaging in the mid to upper 20s, with a 30 percent chance of precipitation Saturday and sunny skies Sunday.
For more information on current or future weather conditions, visit www.weather.gov.