ELMIRA – Chemung County Executive Tom Santulli and County Fire and Emergency Management Director Mark Cicora are issuing an advisory for all Chemung County residents regarding the upcoming storm.
Residents should expect about 1 ¼ - 1 ½ inches of rain starting tonight through Friday. Since the ground is frozen, we can expect the rain to run off. The National Weather Service is predicting a river rise of about 6 ½ feet. This is more than enough to raise the ice cover on the river, break up the ice, and increase the potential for ice jams.
As runoff causes creeks, streams and the Chemung River to rise, ice cover on those water bodies will start to break up and move downstream. There is a potential for ice jams to forms during this process, which could result in flooding from water that gets backed up behind the jam. Any sighting of these conditions should be reported to 911.
The Chemung County Office of Fire and Emergency Management warns people NOT to try to free ice jams, and not to get close to streams or the river if flooding starts to occur. It only takes about 6 inches of swift moving water to be swept off your feet. Large ice chunks in the ice jam can dislodge without warning, causing a rush of water and heavy ice chunks that would injure a person, and could sweep a person down the stream or river.
According to the National Weather Service, around 6 PM on Friday, the changeover to colder temperatures and mixed precipitation will begin. The National Weather Service estimates that at 6 PM the temps will be around 40 degrees, by 10 PM it will drop to freezing and by midnight it is expected to be in the mid 20s. Precipitation will be a mix of rain changing to freezing rain, sleet, wet snow, and then will transition to all snow late Friday night into the early morning hours on Saturday. During this time of dropping temps, wet surfaces will begin to freeze. Due to the rain before the cold snap, Highway crews will not be able to pretreat roads, as the treatment would be washed away making it ineffective. We should expect a period of changing road conditions, including slippery roads and poor driving conditions before crews will be able to start their work.
Again, if the public spots any conditions that look like ice chunks are piling up or flooding is starting to occur, they should call 911 to report these conditions. They should not enter the area nor attempt to remedy the situation on their own. Law Enforcement and Fire Departments are being alerted to monitor their areas as well. Stay tuned to local media for updates to storm conditions.