It is "very likely" that the Ohio River will reach flood stage at Marietta over the next few days, according to a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Charleston, W.Va.
"I think as we get closer and closer to it being more likely, then we'll have more information on how high and how serious it will be," Simone Lewis said.
The weather service has issued a flood watch for Washington County, which will go into effect Saturday morning and end Wednesday morning.
Lewis said there are a number of factors that prompted the watch declaration.
"We're concerned about the snow melt across the area," she said. "Washington County isn't snow-covered, but areas north of the region, like northern Ohio and Pennsylvania, are pretty snow-covered."
Lewis added that there is still quite a bit of snow in the mountains of West Virginia, and the warm temperatures are causing all of the snow to melt.
Flood Watch facts
Washington County is under a flood watch starting Saturday morning and continuing through Wednesday.
More than an inch of rainfall is expected through Sunday.
Small streams and creeks will flood first.
It is very likely that the Ohio and Muskingum rivers will flood.
Source: National Weather Service, Charleston, W.Va.
The rain in the forecast will only make the situation worse. More than an inch of rainfall is expected through Sunday.
Lewis said creeks and streams in the area will be the first to rise due to the snow melt and rainfall.
People who live in flood-prone areas should start taking precautions now, such as securing valuables, Lewis said. People who have had to evacuate in the past should be especially cautious, she added.
The employees at Washington-Morgan Community Action's Family Health Service center on Wayne Street in Marietta are already concerned.
Pat Glover, clerk at the health center, said they learned their lesson after the September 2004 flood, the worst in Marietta in 40 years, left four feet of water in the building's basement and destroyed everything.
"The flood watch had been rescinded (then), so we didn't move anything out," she said.
But Glover said Thursday that employees are keeping their eyes on the water level.
"Everything will be moved out if it comes up," she said.
Mike Cullums, public information officer with the Washington County Emergency Management Agency, said he'll meet with the hydrologist with the National Weather Service in Charleston today via teleconference and take appropriate action based on the information he receives.
"It is our hope that by early Friday afternoon we'll be able to obtain more specific predictions, then the city and county will act accordingly to get information out to people through various means," he said.
Cullums added that Jeff Lauer, the director of the EMA, as well as Chad Presley, the safety-service director for the City of Marietta, will also be involved with the teleconference.
Marietta residents will receive notification through the Community Alert Network system.
"It's a reverse telephone notification system and we are able to notify people within certain river stages," Cullums said. "If it's going to hit 35 feet, we'll call everyone it will affect at 35 feet, and so on."
You can register your phone number with the system by visiting the City of Marietta's Web site, www.mariettaoh.net , under the online services tab.