Stormy weather, melting snow creates flood hazard

Water over the road on M-20, east of Big Rapids, is pictured Thursday morning. Rainy weather and melting snow created watery conditions in many areas of Mecosta County on Thursday. (Pioneer photo/Jim Crees)

MECOSTA COUNTY – With warming temperatures and storms hitting the area this week, there’s the potential for the new water and snowmelt to cause some flooding to and around local waterways.

While there is very little concern about a large rise for the Muskegon River, Mecosta County Emergency Management Director Scott Schroeder said some of the area’s smaller rivers and streams may be affected.

“We’ll be monitoring river conditions in the county,” he said. “The Muskegon currently is not as much of a concern as much of the areas along smaller streams and rivers, especially with larger rains and snowmelt coming down from the north.”

Schroeder said residents may start seeing those conditions precipitate heading into the weekend.

“The Muskegon is not too bad,” he said. “The Chippewa River over by Barryton is down right now, but is one river we’ll be watching closely for a rapid increase.”

Schroeder is concerned about ice jamming up along the county’s largest river.

“I’m more worried about ice breaking off and jamming,” he said. “(The river) is pretty much open south of Big Rapids, but as more of that melts and gets down to the Rogers Pond, there may be some shifting ice and it could potentially cause a backup.

“As always in the spring, we always need to be aware the thawing of the ice on the river and being on watch of any ice problems that could cause.”

Schroeder also expressed concern about the possibility of severe weather on Thursday, including heavy rains and potential tornadoes.

“Typically, around the end of March and beginning part of April we see events like (severe storms),” he said. “We’ve had an exceptionally busy winter this year with weather events.

“As we start to transition toward spring, we’re not looking at any severe cold weather in the long-range forecast, but everyone is going to have to be on the lookout at end of March and first part of April, that’s when we typically see bigger ice storms.”

With additional rain, on top of the snowmelt this week, Schroeder said residents should be prepared for fluctuations in water on roadways or around normal drainage areas.

“We could be looking at some ponding, where there is standing water on road, and people might see some ponding and flooding in yards and fields where you wouldn’t typically don’t because the frost is not out of the ground yet.”

Schroeder added it’s important for residents to remain vigilant on changing weather and pay attention to weather forecasts.

The National Weather Service on Thursday issued a flood watch for Big Rapids and surrounding areas, which is set to expire at 8 p.m. tonight. The watch came as a result of a weather forecast calling for heavy rain of between a tenth and a quarter of an inch during the day, and another tenth to a quarter of inch at night.

The high temperature on Thursday was 59 degrees, the NWS said, which melted ice and snow that has sat on the ground for weeks.

The Friday forecast doesn’t look much sunnier. The daytime forecast in Big Rapids calls for rain and snow, with a high of 37. At nighttime, the temperature is expected to dip down to 23.

— Pioneer associate editor Tim Rath contributed to this report.


Posted by Brandon Fountain

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