Jammed Up

The National Weather Service issued a flood watch for Warren County from 1 p.m. Wednesday to 7 a.m. Thursday due to expected heavy rains combined with melting snow.

According to the warning, small streams and creeks were to be at the greatest risk of flooding due to the potential for heavy downpours over a short duration. Main stem rivers were expected to have a slower response to the heavy rainfall but residents were advised to be aware of the possible risk of minor flooding.

Steve Lauser, Park Ranger for the Army Corps of Engineers, reported that the discharge rate for the Kinzua Dam as well as the flow downriver are holding steady at average levels for this time of year.

“What we’re doing right now is holding a fairly constant discharge rate,” explained Lauser. “As the regional office monitors the different stream gauges, they’ll make the necessary adjusments for flood control purposes.”

As far as the reservoir itself, Lauser forecasted a slight elevation rise for the weekend, with levels rising from 1304 to 1310 feet above sea level. “The water we’re releasing right now isn’t contributing much to the flow downriver,” he continued, “it is currently measuring 3400 cubic feet per second flow which is an average level for this time of year.”

As of Wednesday afternoon, PennDOT Maintenance Manager Wes Hess reported he was not aware of any roadway flooding issues in the area.

“We have been out cutting ice and moving snow out of the areas that needed to be cleared so water could drain off the road,” Hess explained. “We’ve also been clearing snow that has been accumulating in the ditches where water would normally flow, but couldn’t because of the snow plugging them up.”

While the roads remain clear, it is the massive ice floes accumulating in parts of Jackson Run and Brokenstraw Creek that have residents concerned that flooding may become an issue.

Candi Thompson lives along Jackson Run and first reported the accumulation of ice: “It was last night just after six when I noticed there was ice coming down the creek. (The pieces) weren’t very big, but by the time I looked back out the window it had begun to jam up. You could literally hear the ice piling up, but it was hard to describe what it sounded like.”

In Pittsfield, Robert Auflick heard the ice crashing down Brokenstraw Creek before he knew what was going on. “I woke up to my dogs barking this morning around 2 a.m. At first I thought it was because of a train, but then I realized it was something else. It was much louder and almost sounded like the train was crashing.”

When Auflick looked out over the train tracks, he could see the water rising quickly.

“I’ve never seen anything like this in the entire time I’ve lived here,” said Auflick who has been a resident along Route 27 for 32 years.

While he discounted threat of flooding as unlikely for residents along Brokenstraw Creek, Thompson was quick to recall the flood in 1992 that affected many residents and businesses along Jackson Run. According to Thompson, the previous owners of his house said the flood waters in 1992 did reach the basement but didn’t make it into the living area.

“I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t concerned at all, but it’s not a major concern,” said Thompson. “We’ve been here for about eight years and the water has never made it up into the house.”