- The Washington Times - Thursday, February 20, 2003

ASSOCIATED PRESS
Rain and rising temperatures in the forecast over the next few days threaten to melt this week's mammoth snowfall in the East and cause disastrous floods.
In Pennsylvania, emergency-management officials urged people to prepare for high water by selecting an evacuation route, clearing snow from flat roofs and stocking up on supplies.
"With all of this snow on the ground, the potential is there for serious flooding," said David M. Sanko, director of the Pennsylvania Emergency Management Agency. "We're hoping that the snow melts slowly, but as history has shown us over and over again, warming temperatures can lead to disaster."
The forecast calls for 1 to 2 inches of rain tomorrow night into Saturday, said Walt Nickelsberg, of the National Weather Service's office in Mount Holly, N.J., which covers the lower Delaware River.
"It's really a watch-and-see type of situation," he said. "If we get the 1 inch, I feel confident that we wouldn't get the flooding. If we get the 2 inches, it's possible to start seeing some flooding."
In Virginia, communities in the Shenandoah Valley and the mountainous regions in the north were warned to lock down their belongings and move to higher ground.
"It's not often that you know ahead of time about a flood," said Dawn Eischen, a spokeswoman for the Virginia Department of Emergency Management. "With three or four days ahead of time, we're trying to do something right now."
In Harrisburg, Pa., where 21 inches of snow fell, city officials took precautions against a repeat of a 1996 flood in which the Susquehanna River rose 10 to 15 feet in a day, causing tens of millions of dollars in damage.
City workers readied pumps, boats, sandbags and other materials. And they raced to clear as much snow as possible from the streets so there would be less left to melt.
In Alexandria, officials kept watch on the Potomac River, and readied sandbags for distribution to homes and businesses in the city's historic Old Town district.
In Baltimore and New Jersey, authorities urged residents to shovel snow from sewer grates to give rain and melting snow a place to go.


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