MOUNT VERNON — Moderately warmer temperatures and light rain were welcome news for Knox County after a series of winter storms had piled snow banks high. A sudden thaw could have proven disastrous, and may yet plague this year’s late winter/early spring period.
“We’ve been fortunate so far,” said Rob Clendening of the Knox Soil & Water Conservation District on Monday. “The rain we’ve gotten today is allowing snow to melt slowly without too many problems.”
The week’s forecast for temperatures at or just above freezing with only slight additional snow or rain expected looks good, Clendening said, for the continued gradual depletion of the massive amounts of snow delivered by three back-to-back winter storms in February.
If a sudden change to a very warm and heavily rainy spell should happen, however, it could result in widespread flooding and wetness issues in and around buildings, Clendening said.
Clendening had a number of tips for keeping an eye on late-winter flood potential.
1) Landowners should monitor water management systems on and around their properties as snow melts to ensure that melt water can be discharged without negatively impacting their home or out buildings.
2) Make sure eaves and downspout drains are able to function as intended. If eave troughs are relatively free from ice buildup, check the outlet area for the downspout pipe to ensure it has a free discharge.
3) Where eave troughs are blocked with ice and the melt water will have to run off of the edge of the roof, consider using snow removal equipment to cut through snow and ice dams in adjoining lawn areas that could direct the melt water toward the building foundation.
4) For homes with sump-pump systems, check to make sure the pump installation is working properly, and that the discharge pipe is not blocked and extends well beyond snow or ice build-up that could direct the water back to the foundation.
5) City, village and rural subdivision residents should make sure runoff from adjoining properties is able to pass around their homes without running against the foundation area.
6) Farther away from buildings, check driveway culvert and nearby storm drain inlets to ensure they are not blocked by ice and that they will allow melt water to enter freely. On rural properties where local road culverts may become blocked, be prepared to contact the appropriate government authority.
Knox County Engineer Jim Henry said that in the event of a culvert blockage, residents are often uncertain whom to call.
“Call my office and we can refer them to the right agency,” Henry said.
The county garage can be contacted at 397-1590. Henry said the melt looks good so far and that he didn’t anticipate any major problems unless a sudden heat wave with heavy rain were to hit before the bulk of the snow is melted. No matter what comes, Henry said, one thing is certain.
“Those big piles of snow are going to last for a while,” he said.