Snow, cold rain that battered much of US leaves behind flooding concerns in some areas

By Timberly Ross, AP
Sunday, December 27, 2009

Winter weather leaves behind flooding concerns

OMAHA, Neb. — Snow and rain storms that have battered much of the country for days have started subsiding, leaving behind concerns about flooding in some areas.

Storms from Texas to the Upper Midwest dumped 23.9 inches of snow in Grand Forks, N.D., and 18 inches near Norfolk, Neb. In the East, higher temperatures and rains have started melting and washing away last week’s record-setting snowfalls, threatening the region with flooding.

The National Weather Service also issued flood warnings for parts of the South and Midwest, and winter weather advisories were still in effect in sections of Nebraska, the Dakotas, and Michigan through late Sunday morning.

A woman and her teenage daughter in Middletown, Pa., a suburb of Philadelphia, were rescued from a rain-swollen creek after their SUV went off the road Saturday. Rescue workers found the 14-year-old clinging to a log; her mother was trapped in the vehicle.

Authorities in southeast Missouri were searching for a woman who washed away in a ditch on Christmas Eve as heavy rains showered the region. Witnesses saw her in the water west of Powe, Mo., and tried to assist her, said Sgt. Jody Laramore of the state Highway Patrol.

In Chicago, one of the nation’s busiest travel hubs, snow and ice along with rain on the East Coast canceled or delayed more than 450 flights Saturday.

Shannon Fullmer drove two hours from his home in Freeport, Ill., to Chicago’s O’Hare International Airport on Saturday to pick up his 12-year-old son. But the flight from New Jersey was delayed more than three hours.

The 38-year-old waited in a long line to get through security so that he could wait by the gate where his son’s plane was expected to arrive about 7:30 p.m. CST.

Fullmer said he would wait “as long as I have to.”

“It doesn’t do any good to get angry,” he said.

A few dozen flights were delayed and a few canceled Saturday afternoon in southern Wisconsin. Three to five inches of snow was expected by Sunday morning.

Flights also were delayed at the three major airports in the New York area, which was getting rain and patchy fog. Some travelers arriving at Newark Liberty International had delays of nearly 2½ hours.

Most New York area delays were weather-related but some were worsened by stricter security precautions after an airplane bombing attempt in Detroit, said Steve Coleman, a spokesman for the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, which operates the area’s airports.

In South Dakota, state troopers assisted 182 people who were stranded in their vehicles or needed help getting through snowy roads, Col. Dan Mosteller said.

In the East, rain and higher temperatures helped to melt snow in areas where as much as 2 feet fell last weekend. But freezing temperatures were expected overnight in parts of New England. A freezing rain advisory was extended through 6 a.m. Sunday for parts of western Massachusetts.

In New Jersey, rain that began falling Christmas night was expected to continue through Sunday morning. Flood warnings were in effect for most of southern New Jersey and the Philadelphia area through the late afternoon.

Winter weather has been blamed for more than 20 deaths across the country in the past week. One of the latest was an 81-year-old Iowa man whose body was found in a ditch Friday after his pickup truck got stuck in the snow and he tried to walk home.

Associated Press writers Carrie Antlfinger in Milwaukee, Verena Dobnik in New York, M.L. Johnson and Karen Hawkins in Chicago, Heather Hollingsworth in Kansas City, Mo., Kathy Matheson in Philadelphia, Bruce Shipkowski in Trenton, N.J., and Bob Salsberg in Boston contributed to this report.

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