Snow clearing

Marietta Borough workers clear snow from gutters and storm drains after a March 2015 snow storm.

And now The Big Melt.

A warm-up Sunday through Wednesday will shrink the snow cover left by last weekend’s historic snowfall.

Officials are keeping an eye on the rapid snowmelt and expect it to combine with a rainfall of 1 to 1.5 inches of rain  Wednesday.

But no repeat of the massive 1996 flooding on the Susquehanna River is expected. That year, 60-degree temperatures hastened the breakup of ice on the river and the meltdown of a heavy snowpack throughout the river drainage. That created devastating flooding and considerable damage to the Safe Harbor Dam.

This year, “the Susquehanna should be able to handle it,” said Charles Ross, a hydrologist with the National Weather Service in State College.

Andy Davis, spokesman for Brookfield Renewable, owner of the Safe Harbor Dam, said, “Things are looking great. Ice only began forming on the river two weeks ago.’’

However, Ross advises people in Lancaster County who live along small streams and the Conestoga River to be vigilant next week as the snow melts and rain falls.

City seeks to unclog

In Lancaster city, the priority now shifts from snow removal to making sure thousands of curbside catch basins are unclogged as the snow begins to rapidly melt.

“There’s always some next big priority after a big storm like this,” said Charlotte Katzenmoyer, the city’s public works director. “That will now be sending crews out to clear catch basins.”

Snow emergency routes in the city have been cleared of snow from curb to curb, and those catch basins should be clear. Ones that might not be are on side streets.

The basins are needed to drain water as the snow melts so water doesn’t pool and freeze at night, creating black ice.

Katzenmoyer said she is thankful for the upcoming warmer weather as it will rid streets of the banks of snow. That way, if and when the next significant snow falls, there will be places on streets to put snow.

In Marietta Borough, Mayor Ray Vegso is optimistic residents will take action in response to officials' request to clear sewer and storm drains.

Greg Sahd, Columbia borough manger, said clearing up the storm drains was part of the overall clean-up strategy. Officials are working on getting assistance from PennDOT to help clear the roads. "It's a slow slog," Sahd said.

Lancaster County Emergency Management Agency director Randy Gockley said municipalities are doing the "prudent thing."

The forecast

Temperatures will be above normal next week thanks to a warm front that will tap warm Gulf Coast air, said Eric Horst, Millersville University meteorologist.

High temperatures should reach about 46 on Sunday, the upper 40s to near 50 on Monday, and the 50s on Tuesday and Wednesday. There may be fog around Sunday morning as the warm air mixes with the snow.

Horst is forecasting perhaps a half-inch of rain on Wednesday afternoon. The National Weather Service said 1 to 1.5 inches is possible.

Horst estimated the above-freezing temperatures of recent days have compacted and melted the snow to a depth of about 8 inches.

“The snowpack will get tattered pretty fast,” he said.

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