PITTSBURGH (KDKA) – For the first time in what seems like forever it’s going to get a bit more comfortable outside and even more so this weekend.
But that comfort comes with a price.READ MORE: Fatal Police Shooting In Ohio Hospital Caught On Officer Body Camera
Melting the snowpack and prompting concerns about flooding.
Meteorologist Fred McMullen heads up the Severe Weather Forecast Team at the National Weather Service and says there’s a lot of pent-up water out there in our region’s snowpack.
“The most snow that we have on the ground is right now in northern West Virginia with about two feet of snow,” he explained. “It kind of progressively goes down as you go down and lower elevation to like southwestern PA. In the Pittsburgh area, we have anywhere between two to four inches of snow water equivalent. If the warmth melted all the snow that’s how much water we would get out of it. It’s like having a full range rainstorm happen within you know several hours.”
And speaking of rainstorms, our meteorologists and Mullen’s crew are watching on setting up to move across the country that could impact our region early next week.
That coming as we experience a warm-up today and some melting.
Mullen says they are hoping for a gradual thaw with, “warming over the weekend in the higher elevations will get that water down, so when the rain does come next week, that we don’t have a lot of water that’s going to add to the system so we don’t want to add two inches of water from snow melting plus two inches of falling from the sky.”
Anyone living along our many creeks, streams, and rivers knows that’s a recipe for flooding and it can be costly.
Mullen points out with this setup…“The sensitivity for flooding tends to be in the Yough and in the Mon.”
Jennifer Johnsen-Nazareth is a State Farm agent and she explains that there is some confusion when it comes to insurance and flooding.
“It’s a big misconception, homeowners does not cover flood insurance or the flood issue that arises,” she said.READ MORE: West Virginia's Offer Of Cash And Free Recreational Destination Passes Receives Huge Response
WATCH: A Concerning Combination: Warm Weather & Flooding
But there is separate flood insurance available.
“You know water is the number one cause of loss in Pennsylvania for homeowners,” she explained. “Even just an inch of water can cause up to $25,000 worth of damage, it can really saturate rugs drywall furniture. Even your belongings.”
The federal government backs flood insurance, according to Johnsen-Nazareth.
“Flood insurance is a separate policy, it’s provided by many different insurance companies that are administrators through the National Flood Insurance Program,” she said.
The cost of the insurance varies based on how flood vulnerable you are and Johnsen-Nazareth says we’re not just talking about river or stream flooding.
“You can have water line breaks,” she said. “Really it’s any surface water that hits the home and comes into the home.”
But here’s an important point to remember, “There is a 30 day waiting period so we recommend anybody concerned about flooding. Really get to work on it as soon as possible.”
Because the flooding season in this region runs from now to late July.
In our neck of the woods the highest percentage of the population living at risk of flooding is in the Panhandle of West Virginia.
A study by First Street Foundation found close to 30% of residents there are considered at risk of flooding. In Southwestern PA Armstrong County has 16% of its population at risk, Greene County is next at 12%, and Allegheny County has 7% of the population living at risk for flooding.MORE NEWS: Crews Spend Hours Trying To Gain Control Of Massive Scrapyard Fire On Neville Island
Mullen says a shift of the coming storm to the north could mean the difference between losing a few parking spaces on the Mon Wharf and flooding reaching people’s homes.