Cold conditions could mean slow spring thaw

SHIOCTON – Our colder conditions are actually helping out homeowners.

It is keeping potential flood waters at bay, at least for now. But the situation could quickly change.

Donna Livingston says this spring she’ll closely watch the Wolf River behind her home.

“I’m hoping it will be a slow melt.”

She’s lived on the river in Shiocton for 23 years. In that time she’s seen the water creep close to her home on many occassions.

“Every year it comes up, but not every year is the same. It’s gone about halfway up the backyard already.”

The National Weather Service and other officials are closely watching river and lake levels.

The outlook for flooding is slightly elevated because of the amount of snow and frost this winter. But the forecast may be in our favor.

“That forecast is based on the precipitation forecast for the next several weeks which is indicating below average snow and rain and cooler than normal temperatures,” said the National Weather Service’s Jeff Last.

But while the spring thaw may be off to a slow start now, a rapid warm up could cause significant problems. And that’s something officials like Winnebago County Emergency Management Director Linda Kollmann are hoping to avoid.

“We hope it will stay a cool spring that will slow the melt and help those residents along the river.”

But melting snow might not be the only cause for concern this spring.

The National Weather Service says what could be a bigger risk this year, is the threat of ice jams along curvy sections of rivers and streams.

“The potential is a bit higher than normal perhaps because of the extensive ice on the rivers and this cold period that we have experience this winter and early this spring,” said Last.

While it’s nothing new for people like Livingston, she says she’ll still be prepared.

“When it all stats to melt, we’ve had quite a lot of snow this year so it could be a problem.”

There are some waterways that get extra attention. That includes Lake Winnebago.

Each fall the Army Corps. of Engineers intentionally lowers the water level in the lake 16 inches.

This year, it has already been lowered 22 inches.

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