Last updated: December 21. 2013 6:51PM - 1536 Views

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Bob Strickley

PDT Content Manager

A weather system that was initially a threat to bring a white Christmas to much of the country has instead shifted its intentions to bringing a soggy Christmas.

Saturday afternoon and evening, much of the state of Ohio was under flood alerts as a system that has been predicted to bring 1.5 to 3.5 inches of rain moved into the region.

“A frontal boundary will continue to be the focus an area of heavy rainfall across the region into Sunday morning. In addition, the recent melting of snow has elevated streams slightly and will help increase the flood threat,” a National Weather Service forecast release said. “Rainfall totals are expected to be in the 1.5 to 3.5 inch range with localized higher amounts possible. Impacts may include flooded roads as well as streams and rivers exceeding bank full.”

Scioto County and the surrounding counties are all under a flood watch set to expire Sunday morning.

“A flood watch means there is a potential for flooding based on current forecasts. You should monitor later forecasts and be alert for possible flood warnings,” the release said. “Those living in areas prone to flooding should be prepared to take action should flooding develop.”

Hourly NWS forecasts predicted heavy rain entering the area around midnight and the precipitation continuing until around 8 a.m. Sunday.

The Ohio Department of Public Safety reminded residents of the dangers of driving during flood conditions using the phrase, “Turn around and don’t drown.”

“Current ground saturation from the previous snow fall has made conditions suitable for flooding in many parts of the state,” Nancy Dragani of the Ohio Emergency Management Agency said. “We are particularly concerned about motorists traveling at night. This time of year it gets darker sooner making it difficult for travelers to determine roadway conditions particularly, flooded roadways.”

State officials urge motorists to be aware when approaching roadways with high water signage, stop and do not cross. Officials warned drivers to never drive through flooded roadways and never drive around barriers that warn that a road flooded or has high water.

“Flash floods are one of the most dangerous kinds of flooding because they combine the destructive power of high water with incredible speed and unpredictability,” a release from the Ohio EMA said. “Rapidly rising water creating a flash flood may occur with little warning.”

The Ohio Department of Transportation has several resources for motorists to find instantaneous road conditions of their route. A real-time map of Ohio roadway conditions can be found at www.ohho.com.

The NWS also offers a real-time hydrologic map that highlights flooding stages throughout the state. The map can be found here.

Rain and flooding aren’t the only threats going into the evening hours and onto Sunday.

“There is a possibility of severe thunderstorms tonight as a cold front swings across the region. Damaging winds gusts are the main concern at this time, though a brief tornado cannot be ruled out especially along and East of Interstate 71,” A NWS forecast said. “In addition, gusty winds are expected tonight out of the South…with sustained winds from 20 to 25 mile per hour and gusts to 35 miles per hour. In the wake of the cold front on Sunday, Westerly wind gusts to 40 miles per hour are possible.

Locally, up-to-date weather alerts and other useful information can be found on the social media accounts of the Daily Times and area agency feeds.

On Twitter, The Scioto County EMA can be followed under the handle @Scioto-Alert. The Scioto County EMA also has a Facebook page.

Updates on road conditions in District 9 of ODOT can be found on Twitter under the handle @ODOT_SouthOhio. District 9 is also on Facebook.

The Daily Times can be found on Twitter under the handle @PDTnews and searching “Portsmouth Daily Times” on Facebook.

Bob Strickley can be reached at 353-3101, ext. 296, or bstrickley@civitasmedia.com. For breaking news, follow Bob on Twitter @rjstrickleyjr.

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