Warm temps near record, aren't sticking around
With temperatures in the 60s and showers throughout the area, one might have thought Northumberland County was in the middle of April rather than the end of January.
The swarm of mild air behind last week's storms and arctic air brought unseasonable, near-record temperatures to the area.
Temperatures topped 62 degrees at 1 p.m. Wednesday, according to data from the National Weather Service (NWS) monitoring station at the Penn Valley Airport, State College.
Locally, a temperature of 64 degrees was seen on a bank thermometer Wednesday afternoon. While record highs and lows are not maintained by the NWS for the local area, meteorologist Bruce Budd said Wednesday's high was close to a mark reached nearly seven decades ago in the capital.
"In 1947, a record high of 70 degrees was noted in Harrisburg and those numbers are the same for Williamsport, so we were in the ballpark today," Budd said.
Budd said Wednesday could have been the second day of warmer temperatures, but snow on the ground cooled the air enough to keep temperatures in the upper 30s Tuesday.
Wednesday's weather helped to make snow piles disappear, which, could also help slow flooding problems.
"Nature is working with us at this time," Budd said. "The warmer temperatures reduce the amount of ice in rivers, keeping them flowing, while today's thaw helps to absorbs water into the ground, reducing the chance of flooding."
Despite nature's help, the area could still see some flooding from a projected one to two inches of rain falling Wednesday into today. Forecasters issued a flood watch for the four-county area until this morning.
Between 2 and 7:53 p.m. Wednesday, approximately one-third of an inches of rain had fallen at Selinsgrove.
"In larger rivers, the amount of rain, coupled by the water in from the ice flows could put the level up to river banks, which is very unusual, considering last week we had arctic cold weather," Budd said.
The meteorologist reported some ice jam flooding in the Susquehanna River in Dauphin County.
The NWS Advanced Hydrologic Prediction Service, based out of State College, is predicting the following crests for the Susquehanna River:
Bloomsburg - 18.6 feet at 7 p.m. Friday.
Danville - 19.7 feet at 1 a.m. Saturday.
Sunbury - 23 feet at 7 p.m. Friday.
Milton - 19.3 feet at 5 a.m. Friday.
Lewisburg - 18.4 feet at 7 a.m. Friday.
The Milton and Lewisburg numbers are slightly above flood stage, and low lying areas could be affected. The numbers in Bloomsburg, Danville and Sunbury are at the peak of the river's action stage, meaning those with homes and businesses near the river are encouraged to monitor conditions for further rises.
A wind advisory was issued for Northumberland, Columbia, Montour and Schuylkill counties until noon today while steady gusts of 25 to 35 mph and peak gusts of 55 mph were predicted.
The warm spell will be short lived because temperatures took a plunge overnight. They are not expected to rise above 35 degrees until at least next Thursday, according to NWS forecasts.