With rain, Ohio to rise to 32 feet

Rising river levels prompted the move of the W.P. Snyder Wednesday, and heavy rain expected today means flooding is possible throughout the Mid-Ohio Valley.

Fred Smith, architect for the Ohio History Connection, said the boat’s move to Neale Marine in Vienna, W.Va. Wednesday was a precaution to avoid a possible problem with where the boat was temporarily moored at the confluence of the Muskingum and Ohio rivers.

The Snyder, the only remaining steam-powered sternwheel towboat in the U.S., had been moored there temporarily since its return to Marietta a week ago following repairs at a dry dock in Henderson, W.Va. The water level in the Muskingum River has been too high to allow the 95-year-old boat and its towboat to safely pass under the Putnam Bridge and make it to the Ohio River Museum.

“Access would be a problem with the way the mooring is,” Smith said. “It would be hard to maintain the mooring of the barge. It really isn’t a good permanent mooring, so it’s actually a relief that they are moving it.”

Simone Lewis, meteorologist for the National Weather Service in Charleston, W.Va., said the Ohio River’s rise is anticipated to be quite high.

“The river is sitting at close to 18 feet,” she said. “It looks like it’s expected to rise to about 32 feet or so by the weekend. That is below flood stage; the flood stage is 35 feet at Marietta and at Willow Island Locks it’s about 37 feet. At this point we’re not expecting flooding; we’re expecting the river to gradually rise over the weekend.”

Smith said the shipyard that did the repairs on the Snyder has been handling things well.

“I think the boat is in great hands,” he said. “(Amherst Madison has) been watching the water levels constantly.”

Lewis said the weather should clear up over the weekend, but in the meantime the area can see nearly two inches of rain.

“Showers and thunderstorms will continue for most of the day (today) and into (tonight),” Lewis said. “Some areas could get a quick inch of rain. As far as the golden rule (today), you’re looking at one inch to an inch and a half (of rain). You’ll have areas where that could be higher.”

Lewis said a flood watch will be in effect today through sometime Friday morning because the rain could mean the potential for flooding of small creeks and streams, which react quickly to water.

“It’s just because of the fact that the ground is already wet from storms that have occurred,” she said.

Smith said it is hard to speculate when the Snyder will make its way back to the Ohio River Museum.

“I think it’s supposed to dry out, but I would say not next week,” he said. “I would say more likely the following week; we’re talking Memorial Day and afterward. If things change, we’ll let everyone know.”