A January thaw combined with mixed precipitation events Friday and Saturday could cause severe flooding and ice jams throughout Cayuga County and neighboring areas.
Cayuga County and the central New York region is in a flood watch Thursday evening through Saturday, according to the National Weather Service. With temperatures rising into the 40s and 50s Thursday and Friday, snow melt and 1.5 to 2 inches of rainfall could cause waterways to rise several feet, the service added.
Niel Rivenburgh, acting director of Cayuga County Emergency Services, told legislators at a Judicial and Public Safety Committee meeting Wednesday night that there could be major flooding in Moravia.
"We've let the highway departments know, (county) planning, and city water operators know about the weather," he said. "There could be some impacts. We're watching it closely."
Moravia and surrounding towns and villages are still recovering from major floods in July. Rivenburgh said with 1 to 2 inches of rain expected to fall in the area, and with unseasonably warm temperatures melting snow pack, the town could see up to four inches of water.
The end-of-the-week thaw won't last long, however. The National Weather Service is also reporting freezing rain changing into snow Friday night into Saturday. A winter storm warning is in effect from 4 p.m. Friday through 4 p.m. Saturday for northern Cayuga County. Snow could accumulate between 7 and 14 inches. Ice is also expected to accumulate, which could lead to power outages.
The rest of Cayuga County is in a winter storm watch. The city of Auburn could get up to 8 inches of snow. Southern areas of the county are expected to get less. Ice is also expected to build up.
The Seneca County Office of Emergency Management warned residents of potential ice jams overnight Friday in a Thursday release. Ice jams occur when rapid freezing or breakup and collection of ice during melts creates dams on rivers and streams, the release said. Jams can cause flash floods.
The office encouraged residents to call 911 if high water moves onto your property or if you see an ice jam.