Valdosta Daily Times

March 28, 2013

Weekend rains forecast, river may rise again

Quinten Plummer
The Valdosta Daily Times

VALDOSTA — With the Withlacoochee’s waters hovering right around the “minor flood stage” range and a weather system headed our way from the Midwest, National Weather Service officials don’t expect serious flooding to wash out Easter Sunday plans but warned that minor flooding was likely through Saturday.

The rain won’t reach us until Sunday afternoon or evening, said forecaster Kristie Moore of the National Weather Service’s Tallahassee, Fla., office. As of Wednesday, she said we should expect about a 40 percent chance of rain on Sunday.

“The problem is we don’t know how the weather system’s timing will go because our current models aren’t in sync,” said Moore. “But it looks like showers and storms for Easter Sunday with a weak cold front, heading in from the Great Lakes region.”

Moore said she didn’t expect the cold front to bring freezing temperatures, but cautioned that Sunday’s expected rains would likely keep Lowndes County under the threat of flooding.

“Right now, the river’s height at Skipper Bridge Road is 15.03 feet,” Moore said Wednesday afternoon. “It’s

already started to fall from its crest at 15.13 feet, though it’s still at minor flood stage. The river is forecasted to dip below minor flood stage on the afternoon of Saturday, just in time for more rain to come.”

The Withlacoochee reaches minor flood stage when its waters surpass 13 feet, said NWS Forecaster Jeff Fournier. He said a warning for minor flooding has been issued until Saturday morning as the river was expected to continue slowly receding over the weekend.

Lowndes County’s public works department hasn’t been expecting significant rainfall, said County Clerk Paige Duke. Public works crews have been working overtime to bring roads back online that suffered during the last storms, Dukes said.

Next week’s stormy weather will likely be a harbinger for more inclement weather throughout the month of April, as AccuWeather’s long-range forecasters expect a break in atmospheric conditions that have muted severe weather so far.

“It looks like everybody is going to be vulnerable to severe weather this year, from the Gulf of Mexico in early April up to the Midwest by late in the spring and early summer,” said Senior Meteorologist Dan Kottlowski. “The Deep South is going to be under the gun during April.”

This year’s severe weather events have been forecast to surpass the 939 tornadoes that occurred in 2012, according to the Storm Prediction Center.  AccuWeather’s Severe Weather Team expects violent weather outbreaks to significantly increase during the second half of April and May 2013.

The beginning of 2012 was abnormally active with outbreaks of severe storm and numerous tornadoes early in the year during January and February, while the severe weather events decreased in frequency during the typically active months of April and May.