Heavy rains, melting snow equal another mess

Floyd County public schools finish out the week closed, marking five straight days of no classes as the county and much of Virginia digs out of the massive snowfall that comes under attack Friday and Saturday with drenching rains and flood watches.

A flood watch issued by the National Weather Service office in Blacksburg:

…FLOOD WATCH REMAINS IN EFFECT FROM 1 PM EST THIS AFTERNOON THROUGH SATURDAY AFTERNOON… The Flood Watch continues for * Portions of North Carolina and Virginia, including the following areas, in North Carolina, Alleghany NC, Ashe, Caswell, Rockingham, Stokes, Surry, Watauga, Wilkes, and Yadkin. In Virginia, Amherst, Appomattox, Bedford, Buckingham, Campbell, Carroll, Charlotte, Floyd, Franklin, Grayson, Halifax, Henry, Patrick, and Pittsylvania. * From 1 PM EST this afternoon through Saturday afternoon * 1 to 2 inches of rainfall will occur on top of several inches of snow cover. Runoff from this plus melting snow may cause flooding along streams, creeks and eventually rivers, as well as urban areas. * Those living along creeks and streams and rivers need to monitor them Friday into the weekend. Main stem rivers, especially the Dan and lower Roanoke Rivers may flood this weekend. PRECAUTIONARY/PREPAREDNESS ACTIONS… A Flood Watch means there is a potential for flooding based on current forecasts. You should monitor later forecasts and be alert for possible Flood Warnings. Those living in areas prone to flooding should be prepared to take action should flooding develop. &&

More Information

…FLOOD WATCH DUE TO RAINFALL AND SNOW MELT… .Low pressure tracks from Texas to Alabama through Friday. Rainfall will overspread a warm front ahead of this system today into early Saturday before tapering off to showers in the afternoon. Rainfall amounts of 1 to 2 inches, on top of several inches of snow expected to melt, will bring the potential for flooding especially in urban areas as well as streams and rivers.

Roanoke Times weather guru Kevin Myatt sums it up this way:

Snowpack does odd things to rainfall that can both limit and exacerbate flooding potential. The limiting factor is that if temperatures are only a few degrees above freezing, melting isn’t rapid, and the snowpack can actually absorb the rainfall like a sponge for a while, creating a slushy mess everywhere but keeping a good bit of it from running off into creeks and rivers, at least immediately. But milder temperatures moving toward 50, as will likely happen from Roanoke east and southeast by Saturday, can bring on rapid snowmelt in addition to falling rain, and this can lead to flooding concerns on streams and rivers that are taking on not only the water that is falling at the time, but that which fell last weekend in snowflakes. Snow piles may also be blocking drainages, and in urban areas, more water will be funneled into cleared streets from snow covered properties surrounding.

So the simple takeaway here is that this weekend’s rain on top of still 6 inches-plus snowpack in many areas could enhance the flooding threat across the region. Don’t be surprised to see flood watches and warnings, and be ready to move if you live in an area easily prone to flooding. Also be prepared to see puddles and ponding in unusual places where snow blocks runoff.

Bottom line.  Another weekend mess in our area as Christmas approaches.

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