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Flooding possible as snow melts

Continued forecast for precipitation could add to the troubles

Published: Sunday, Feb. 16, 2014 11:30 p.m. CDT

CRYSTAL LAKE – Weather problems might not melt away with the snow this week.

As residents get relief from frigid temperatures, the threat of flooding increases as piles of snow melt and rain storms loom. Challenging flood conditions could start Tuesday with temperatures expected to reach the mid- to high-30s – warm enough to melt snow.

A continued forecast for precipitation will only add to the troubles. McHenry County could see 3 to 7 inches of snow Monday, with freezing rain expected Wednesday night into Thursday, according to the National Weather Service.

Expected highs are above freezing through Friday before more cold weather blows in this weekend.

AJ Reineking, assistant director of public works for Crystal Lake, said street crews have been on the roads all week clearing storm drains to prepare for the melting snow and rain that could come. He said the deep freeze and snow could cause rain to infiltrate areas it normally would miss.

“We have a pretty deep freeze right now, up to 5 feet deep in some areas,” Reineking said. “Because of the snow on the ground, the rain could get up against houses, and basements could be susceptible [to flooding] that normally wouldn’t be in a spring rain.”

There are steps that residents can take to lower the risk of flood damage, said Abigail Wilgreen, engineering services manager for the city.

City officials encouraged residents to test sump pumps and place a backup sump pump near the primary one in case it fails. Gutters and downspouts should also be cleared of ice and snow and the pipes should face away from the home.

Residents also can clear street drains and sewer grates of snow and ice if they see it could be blocked. It is important to clear away snow on the ground near the house to create a drainage path around and away from the home, Wilgreen said.

While areas such as North Shore Drive and Edgebrook Drive are commonly dealing with flood issues, Wilgreen said all residents should take proper precautions as the snow adds an unknown variable.

“It’s going to completely depend on where the snow is and how snow is piled,” she said. “An area that has never flooded could flood. Each person’s home is different.”

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