BY BRIAN L. HUCHEL firstname.lastname@example.org
---- — DANVILLE — Drifting snow has been replaced by flooding streets as local officials keep an eye on a round of rain coming through the region throughout the day.
A flood watch was issued Wednesday for Vermilion County and 21 other counties after heavy rains were forecast for central Illinois Wednesday night through the end of today. The fear of flooding comes as a result of predicted temperatures as high as the mid 50s today.
The temperatures — which have been rising since Tuesday — create an excess of water. The National Weather Service indicated the current snow pack has as much as 2 inches of water in it already, but frozen ground will force the water to run off rather than soak in.
The flood watch lasts through the end of today. Forecasts are calling for as much as an inch of rain in the northern third of Vermilion County while the remainder will see up to three-quarters of an inch to go with the melting snow.
Despite the slight difference in precipitation totals, Vermilion County Emergency Management Agency Executive Director Ted Fisher said the potential for flooding is countywide given the frozen ground. The problem could start quickly around the North Fork of the Vermilion River, which only needs 3 feet to reach flood stage.
The North Fork remained level at 5.5 feet as of mid-day Wednesday. The Middle Fork at Oakwood and the Vermilion River at Danville also showed no increases Wednesday, staying at 1.5 feet and 3.1 feet respectively.
Fisher said the area “may have some roads flooded even within the cities due to storm water drains being clogged with ice and debris.” Residents might have some flooding in basements and crawl spaces also as a result of the excess rain and melting snow.
“Travelers should be alert for flooded roadways, people that live near rivers and streams should monitor the situation and take appropriate actions,” Fisher said.
In Indiana, a flood watch was issued for along the Wabash River, with serious localized flooding possible along the river upstream of Interstate 74. Predictions call for the river, sitting at 9.5 feet as of Wednesday afternoon, to reach a little more than 20 feet by Monday as a result of rains and melting snow. That level is around 4 feet more than minor flooding stage for the river.
Initial predictions of a slight risk of severe weather today in Vermilion County had shifted more south by midday Wednesday. Forecasts from the National Weather Service still called for strong storms at times with winds that could gust as high as 38 mph today.
With the small taste of warmer weather out of the way, temperatures are forecast to begin dropping again beginning with Friday’s high of 40. By Tuesday, the high temperature is expected to be back down to 25 degrees.