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North country under flood watch as temperature rises, rain comes

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Jefferson, Lewis and St. Lawrence counties are under a flood watch until Saturday morning, as rain and snowmelt are expected to cause rivers to swell.

“There will be rain and thunderstorms through the day Friday,” National Weather Service meteorologist Aaron Reynolds said Thursday.

Rain and temperatures nearing 50 degrees are expected to break up chunks of ice in the Black River, creating jams that can lead to flooding. Rainfall hitting still-frozen ground also could cause flooding on streets and in areas with poor drainage, Mr. Reynolds said.

The warm-up will be short-lived. Temperatures will drop back to daytime highs in the 20s by Sunday. That will reduce the melt.

Emergency officials said they do not expect serious problems.

“We might have some flooding on cross streets or on really flat lands near the farmlands,” Lewis County Emergency Manager James M. Martin said. “We’ll be watching the rivers and making sure we let people know if it starts coming up fast.”

Jefferson County Emergency Services Director Joseph D. Plummer said he does not anticipate road closures or the need for evacuations.

“I think the only problem we could have would be ice jams,” he said.

The potentially problematic areas in Jefferson County are along the Route 3 corridor in the Carthage, Black River and Dexter areas.

As of Thursday afternoon, the Black River’s level was at 6.6 feet. Mr. Plummer said minor flooding could occur at the flood stage of 10 feet.

Mr. Martin said the river isn’t higher than usual at this point, but ice jams would be the greatest risk factor for flooding.

“We really won’t have to worry unless the reservoirs overflow, but I don’t expect a flood problem,” he said.

For information about water levels, visit the Hudson River-Black River Regulating District website at www.hrbrrd.com.

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