Cold returns to Valley after winter deluge of rain


Staff report

YOUNGSTOWN

The unseasonably warm weather that caused flooding in areas Thursday is expected to come with another price today and Saturday: frozen-over roads.

The 2 inches or so of rain that fell Thursday in the Mahoning Valley is expected to freeze today, making the morning commute treacherous, said Brian Mitchell, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Cleveland.

The temperature will be in the upper 20s for most of the morning with a high around 30 in the afternoon. The low tonight will be in the low 20s, Mitchell said.

That’s a far cry from Thursday’s high of 61 degrees, which was reached about 1 p.m., and shy of the record-high temperature for Jan. 12 of 64 degrees in 1898, Mitchell said.

Though dry today, freezing rain could fall Saturday, creating even more havoc on Valley roads, he said.

The highs Saturday and Sunday will be in the 30s with lows in the 20s. Freezing rain and cold return Sunday evening.

Eric Wilhelm, 21 WFMJ-TV chief meteorologist, said Sunday will be the sunnier half of the weekend with temperatures reaching the high 30s with lows in the high 20s, and he predicted temperatures would be relatively mild through the rest of the month.

Looking ahead, Wilhelm also predicted that February would be a bookend to December, with low temperatures and winter conditions returning in force.

Meanwhile, several parts of the Valley experienced flooding Thursday because of the heavy rain that fell throughout the day and the unseasonably high temperatures that melted what was left of the snow and ice, Mitchell said.

“It caused quite a bit of flooding,” he said. “The ground was already saturated before the rain came.”

The Ohio Department of Transportation also noted state Route 165 between U.S. Route 62 and state Route 46 and state Route 711 southbound to Interstate 680 northbound, all in Mahoning County, were closed for a time due to flooding.

Also closed for a while was Interstate 80 eastbound to exit 62A in Hubbard and Route 46 between Salt Springs Road and McKees Lane in Weathersfield.

For Robert Thomas of Liberty the effects of the drenching were all too evident when he looked out his window into his backyard. A creek runs behind Thomas’ home on the 300 block of Goldie Road. As a result, flooding is a recurring problem for Thomas and some of his neighbors.

“It’s deep enough for a crocodile to go through and, if you stood in it, you would drown,” Thomas said of the water level in his backyard.

Thomas feels the township administration should do more to address flooding in his neighborhood.

The township is working with MS Consultants of Youngstown on a $190,000 engineering project to contain runoff from Goldie Road to Belmont Avenue, township Administrator Pat Ungaro said. Completion is set for the end of this year.

Stanley Nudell, township trustee chairman, said officials work with residents to address flooding, but sometimes the township’s jurisdiction is limited.

“I understand the frustration of homeowners,” Nudell said. “But at a certain point, a homeowner is responsible for their private property, and that can be difficult to explain to people.”

Gino Bidinotto, Senior foreman in the township road department, said the department responded to every call it received Thursday. He added that aging infrastructure exacerbates flooding.

Boardman Township experienced widespread flooding with constant complaints since the road department started working at 7:30 a.m. Thursday, said road Superintendent Marilyn Kenner. The township’s single Vactor truck, which vacuums the water in the streets, and its crew worked round the clock to decrease flooding. Kenner said the flooding is most likely caused by over-saturation of the ground from melting snow, as well as the rain.

To file a complaint of flooding or any issue with roads in Boardman, call 330-726-4190.

Bill Coleman, office manager in the Mahoning County Sanitary Engineer’s Office, said the county’s sanitary sewer system was not experiencing any rain-related problems Thursday.

The system Coleman’s office operates is strictly a sanitary system and is not combined with any storm sewers, but some rainwater seeps into the county sanitary system through manholes or cracks in sewer pipes.

“We will notice an uptick in flow at the plants,” he said, referring to the county’s seven wastewater treatment plants.

“We will see, after a 24-hour period, if we notice a sustained higher flow at the treatment plants,” Coleman said.

“It takes a while for the ground to get saturated. That saturation will eventually work its way into the cracks in the sewer lines,” he added.

To respond to reports of sewer backups, the county has two sewer jet trucks and their crews available for duty at any hour, he said.

The sanitary engineer’s office phone number, 330-793-5514, is answered at the Boardman wastewater treatment plant after 4 p.m., he said.

A Youngstown City Schools spokeswoman said the basement of the Irene L. Ward Building, 20 W. Wood St., flooded in the morning, but the facilities staff quickly took care of it.

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