Warm temperatures and heavy rain are causing flooding concerns in parts of our area as icy patches continue to melt.
Rain is falling in most of the region and will continue all day, becoming heaviest between 2 p.m. and 6 p.m. with estimated totals of 1 to 1.5 inches. There is also a chance of thunderstorms. In addition to the rain, temperatures will rise into the lower 60's.
The combination of rain, warm temperatures and ice jams could lead to more flooding in towns bordering the Delaware River.
A flood watch is now in effect until tonight at 6 p.m. for the following counties:
"If the ice jam is still in place on Saturday night and we get heavy rain, it is impossible to predict how bad the flooding is going to be," said Ray Kruzdlo, a senior service hydrologist with the National Weather Service.
An ice jam in the Delaware River forced water on to area roadways in an unusual winter overflow reminiscent of the January 1996 flood that led tens of thousands to evacuate throughout the mid-Atlantic region and damaged the State House Annex in Trenton.
Regardless of the inches that fall, officials doubt flooding will be as severe as the area experienced in January 1996.
"In 1996 we had a different set of circumstances," said Clarke Rupert, spokesman for the Delaware River Basin Commission. "There was a combination of a lot of snow on the ground, heavy rains and really warm temperatures."
"Back in the 1996 flood, there were much larger ice jam issues up and down the Delaware River," he said.
The mile-long ice jam stretched from the area about a half-mile south of the Route 1 bridge to just past the Calhoun Street bridge, Kruzdlo said.
It runs from bank to bank -- which is an average distance of about 900 feet wide at that point. In some areas, the ice pieces were pushing out of the river and onto the riverbank.
The Coast Guard sent boats upstream Thursday to break up the ice jam and help loosen any restrictions preventing water from flowing downstream.
The 65-feet-long tugs encountered ice up to five-feet thick on the river about three miles south of Trenton, according to officials.
Large pieces of ice first bunched together in the water around Trenton, N.J. and Bucks County, Pa. on Wednesday as temperatures in the teens continued to make conditions ripe for freezing.
The New Jersey Statehouse garage, some southbound lanes on Route 29 in Trenton, N.J. and Route 32 north in Yardley, Pa., closed Wednesday because of flooding and remained closed Thursday.
A overflow of water also rushed out onto Route 32 (River Road), in Lower Makefield Township, Pa. on Wednesday evening.
The ice along the river is unstable and dangerous. Do not drive your vehicle into areas where the water covers the roadway. Also avoid touching, standing or going near the ice.
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