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Warmer, rainy forecast causing flooding concerns

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INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. (March 2, 2015) - While most people around central Indiana are probably ready for all the snow to melt off and be done with it, there is concern about it melting too quickly this week. Warmer temperatures and rain in the Tuesday forecast could present flooding problems, according to the National Weather Service.

“I would certainly be clearing out my drains, and taking at least some precautions and certainly watch the weather as this unfolds,” said NWS Hydrologist Al Shipe.

Shipe points out the 11 inches of snow currently on the ground in Indianapolis.  It’s the first time since 1906 that more than ten inches have been on the ground in the month of March.  If the Indianapolis area gets too much rain on Tuesday, the combination of rainfall and melting snow could cause rivers and streams to rise to flood stage.

“Our ground is frozen so it’s not going to soak in,” Shipe said.  “The fortunate thing is our rivers and streams are low for this time of the year.”

Dan Riordan hopes the White River is low enough to handle what flows into it this week.  He and his wife just moved into their riverside home in the Ravenswood area on Saturday.

“House is just remodeled so we’re moving in and mother nature tossed us a nice little snowball,” Riordan said.

He and other Ravenswood residents are well aware of the risks of living in the flood prone area near Broad Ripple.  Some residents have markings on their door frames, recording floods of years past.  Riordon hopes the elevation of his house will be beyond the reach of any rising waters.

“Looks like we’ve got about eight or nine feet from ground level down to the river,” he said.  “Then the gentle slope (of the back yard) gives us another 8 or 9 feet.”

Angie Trusty, who lives and sells real estate along the White River, remembers a similar weather setup.  In 1991, a flood forced her and her husband to evacuate their Ravenswood home.  That was also a rain event with snow on the ground.

“Our decks were covered, we had to leave the house.  It didn’t get into our house, but it does get into a lot of houses that have the lower elevations.”

Trusty knows of several neighbors who have gotten creative to avoid water damage during floods.  One in particular made “flood proof” modifications to his house.

“He had his washer and dryer on a floating system that when the flood waters came up, the washer and dryer came up,” Trusty said.  “He also had a pool table that was on pulleys that was in his basement.  And so when the flood came up, he would pull the pool table up to the ceiling.”

Ship is hopeful that the flooding outlook will continue to improve.  The rain forecast on Monday was already looking lighter than it was last Friday.  He hopes there won’t be enough rain to melt all 11 inches of snow.  But even if half the snow melts, the remaining 5 or 6 inches will likely be turned into solid ice when temperatures dive down again later in the week.

“Currently in the next three days, we see an incomplete melt coming.  And a quick refreeze once we get into Wednesday and Thursday.”