Winter thaw due to arrive with rain next week

Low risk for ice jams on area rivers; weather service keeping watch

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The National Weather Service in Pittsburgh will keep a close watch on iced-over rivers as the winter thaw arrives with significant rainfall Tuesday and Wednesday.

Meteorologist Lee Hendricks said Friday ice is expected to break up on the Cheat River in West Virginia and along the Monongahela, Youghiogheny, Allegheny and Ohio rivers, but there is a low risk for ice jams.

“The snow will absorb some of the rain, but the big question is how much,” Hendricks said.

The ice isn’t expected to melt “a great deal” today when the temperature is expected to be in the low 50s in some parts of Southwestern Pennsylvania because it will dip below freezing again for the next few nights, he said. About one-half inch of rain is predicted today.

The Mon River experienced a rare ice jam in 1996, Hendricks said, adding that the river “doesn’t habitually freeze.”

The polar vortex conditions that brought subfreezing conditions to the region during the last month resulted in frozen conditions on the Mon and along the Ohio River into the West Virginia Panhandle, he said.

The temperature is expected to climb to about 40 degrees Tuesday and Wednesday and the area could receive 1 to 1 1/2 inches of rain those days, Hendricks said.

“We’re just trying to keep an eye on things,” he said, adding the movement of ice next week could pose problems for the navigation industry.

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