23-inch snowpack in Grand Rapids a 'ticking time bomb'

7:56 PM, Feb 7, 2014   |    comments
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GRAND RAPIDS (WZZM) -- Consider the 23 inches of snow in Grand Rapids right now a ticking time bomb. That's how the National Weather Service views it.

Meteorologist Mark Walton is very concerned about flooding come spring. His team uses an instrument to measure how much water is in the snowpack everyday, and says he hasn't seen this high of snow-water equivalent in 50 years.

According to the NWS, snow depth reports across West Michigan have been in the 15 to 25 inch range. Approximately 2 to 5 inches of water is contained within the snowpack. As of February 5, 2014, the official snow-water equivalent measurement at NWS Grand Rapids was 5.0 inches with a snow depth of 22 inches. That rose to 23 inches on February 7.

He says another issue is because it's been so cold, there's much more ice on the rivers.

"The worst case if we were to get a rapid warm-up. It would melt all at the same time before the ice got off the rivers and that would cause ice jams," he said.

Walton says the perfect scenario is a gradual melt. "We could scrape by, but the odds are not in our favor for that to occur," he said.

"If you see this snowpack that is still out here, and all of a sudden we're forecasting temps in the 50s to 60s with rain on top of that, that should be your clue to pay close attention to the situation."

Walton tells homeowners to start removing the snow around your home. If it does melt quickly, it will end up in your basement. And homeowners who live near the river, he says watch for ice movement and ice jams.

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