Thursday, February 20, 2014

US midwest enjoys break from freezing weather but braces for flooding

The Guardian (UK): Blue skies and temperatures above freezing had giddy Chicago residents basking in the rare sunshine after one of the cruelest winters in recent memory. But there were signs – melting snow, growing puddles – that mother nature was about to unleash new misery on the midwest.


Weeks of subfreezing weather are giving way, at least briefly, to temperatures in the 40s and 50s, putting many midwestern cities on guard for flooding, roof collapses and clogged storm drains. Some areas expected a double whammy: warm, spring-like air combined with heavy rains that could compound the problem and turn the big melt into a muddy, damaging mess.

A whole new layer of snow and sleet was forecast to accumulate early Thursday, particularly across Wisconsin, northern Illinois and parts of Indiana, before temperatures rise and change the precipitation to rain, according to the National Weather Service. The warmer temperatures may be accompanied by fog and strong winds that could reach 50mph.

Landscaping companies’ phones were ringing off the hook Wednesday with calls from homeowners seeking crews to scoop snow piles onto dump trucks and haul them away before basements or streets flooded.

“They’re calling me to say, ‘With this rain coming, where is that water and the snow going to go when it melts?’” said Jodey Schmiedekamp of Countryside Industries in suburban Chicago….

Shoveling snow on Chicago's Belden Avenue in 2011, shot by t3xt (talk), Wikimedia Commons, made available under the Creative Commons CC0 1.0 Universal Public Domain Dedication

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