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Ohio Braces for Floods as Melting Snow Swells Rivers

Ohio Braces for Flooding 1:25

Warmer temperatures are raising the fear of flooding in parts of Ohio, with the Ohio River expected to crest nearly six feet over flood stage Sunday as melting snow and ice swell the waterway.

Flood warnings were in place all along the Ohio River on the state’s southern border, from Cincinnati to Portsmouth, and were expected to remain in place through Wednesday, the National Weather Service said.

The Ohio River spilled its banks near Cincinnati Saturday, and the river is expected to crest up to 58 feet — or six feet above flood stage of 52 feet — by noon Sunday, the NWS forecast. In addition to all the water from melting snow and ice, two inches of rain fell on the city by Friday morning as a storm swept through, the NWS said.

Ted Hubbard, engineer for Hamilton County, said floods at this time of year are not unusual. "It's a significant amount but not nearly as bad as in 1997," when the river crested at 64.7 feet and caused some of the worst flooding in southern Ohio in 30 years. The U.S. Geological Survey said those floods in March of that year caused nearly $180 million in damage, and were blamed for five deaths.

There was relief in other parts of Ohio. In Vermilion, a town located on the shores of Lake Erie west of Cleveland, the waters of the Vermilion River went back to normal Saturday, two days after some residents moved belongings to higher floors as the river swelled six feet above flood stage, NBC station WKYC reported.

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— Phil Helsel