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Officials Keeping Close Eye On Water Levels As Thaw Continues

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(CBS) – Although officials in the city and suburbs are watching the approaching storm, they’re not sure what to expect.

Lake County (Illinois) Emergency Management Director Kent McKenzie says flooding is most likely to be localized — for now.

“We will be watching conditions pretty carefully,” he said. “We don’t expect river flooding (now), but with the amount of water that will still be on the ground in the form of frozen snow and ice, and temperatures not expected to get back up above freezing, at least for the foreseeable forecast period, at some point when it melts, we’re apt to have flood problems.”

McKenzie says the ideal situation would be a slow but steady melt over a couple of weeks’ time. But he says the ground is still frozen and not able to absorb much. He is advising those with basements and crawl spaces to check sump pumps and get anything that can be ruined off the basement floor.

Chicago Water Management Commissioner Tom Powers said he’s hoping Chicagoans have cleared the snow away from neighborhood drains. He said he expects any flooding to be localized, with the worst problems near catch basins blocked by snow and ice.

He also said the weather over the next week will still be conducive to freezing water pipes, and urged Chicagoans to leave a trickle of water running for at least the next week.