A change over from rain to snow Sunday night prevented widespread flooding.
Or did it? The latest winter storm left behind a massive snowpack, up to 2 feet in some places in the upper Susquehanna River Basin. With another storm in the forecast later this week, the threat of flooding from the Susquehanna River in the Wyoming Valley could return. “It’s already in the back of our minds,” Luzerne County Emergency Management Coordinator Steve Bekanich said. “We may end up with another high river at the end of the week.” “It all depends on how much it rains and how warm it gets,” said Jim Brozena, executive director for the county flood protection authority. “It’s too early to tell, but as always, our eyes will be looking up north.” According to the National Weather Service in Binghamton, N.Y., early indications suggest a mixed rain and snow event with significant precipitation possible beginning Wednesday through Friday. With temperatures expected to be in the mid-40s, the melting of the snow pack combined with rain could result in another flood scare. “Unfortunately, the next storm is too far out yet to make any strong predictions,” Bekanich said. “What prevented us in getting a high river this time when it got cold and changed over to snow, it could cause us some problems down the road. We’ll be watching and waiting.” The river in Wilkes-Barre crested at 21.6 feet at 1 p.m. Monday, 6 inches below the natural flood stage of 22 feet, according to the Middle Atlantic River Forecast Center in State College. Projections on Saturday had the river cresting at nearly 30 feet, which would have impacted low-lying municipalities along the river in the Wyoming Valley. “It does look like there will be significant rain, that means the potential for flooding,” said Evan Myers of accuweather.com. “Especially in all those places that got dumped with 1 to 2 feet of snow Sunday night into Monday. Bring warmer rains on top of that, there is that potential as we get into Wednesday night and Thursday.” The latest storm left behind 3 to 6 inches of snow on top of an ice layer from the sleet that had fallen in the local area, resulting in several road closures in Fairmount and Lake townships for downed trees and electrical wires. Walter Bilger and his 9-year-old daughter, Tisha, were busy digging his car out from a parking spot in front of their apartment on North Main Street in Wilkes-Barre on Monday morning. “All this was a shocking surprise,” Bilger said. “I thought I put my snow shovel away for good.” Nearly 2 inches of rain fell before it changed to snow, the NWS reported. Since Jan. 1, more than 7 inches of rain has fallen, 2 inches above normal for this time of year.