Above freezing temperature slowly melts snow. Why cities hope it stays that way

COLUMBUS, Wis.– The flooding Columbus experienced two years ago isn’t something Kyle Ellefson wants to see happen again.

“It’s something that is challenging to address,” Ellefson said. “It’s just so massive and it overwhelms most individual homeowners.”

Dozens of homeowners evacuated and rising water closed some state highways in 2019. With snow starting to melt this year, it’s something the city administrator is already preparing for.

“Just making sure that we are ready to react if we need to,” Ellefson said. “We already have a supply of prefilled sandbags that are ready at a filling station.”

A senior service hydrologist with the National Weather Service, Sarah Marquardt, said the risk for flooding is above average this year because of the 16 inches of snow on the ground.

“Snow melt in the spring time is one of the biggest factors for flooding,” Marquardt said.

She said that risk could change depending on how quickly it melts.

“Looking ahead, the next few weeks temperatures will be above freezing with lows below freezing at night,” Marquardt said. “That’s a good scenario for a slow snow melt.”

Ellefson hopes it stays that way.

“We’re optimistic that we’re going to have a slower snow melt,” Ellefson said.

He said he won’t be caught off guard if it doesn’t.

“It’s a combination 0f being ready to go and respond as needed, but also, keeping that future look to say what can we do to make sure in five to ten years we are better positioned at that time than we are maybe today,” Ellefson said.

Homeowners are also suggested to start preparing by making sure sump pumps are properly working, shoveling snow away from the base of homes, and looking into flood insurance.