After record-breaking snowfall last week, Buffalo, New York, faces a different kind of threat on Monday as temperatures are expected to hit nearly 60 degrees Fahrenheit (15.5 degrees Celsius,) causing 70 inches of snow piled around houses, roads and schools to suddenly melt. Rain is expected to accompany the rising temperatures, meteorologists said, furthering the possibility of widespread flooding as creeks swell and overflow.
"Behind us is an 18-mile creek, so everything in the village will come through us at some point, so we have to get ready for the possibility of flooding," Pete Yeskoot, a resident of Hamburg, about 12 miles south of Buffalo, told the Associated Press. "And given all this snow, we have to expect that this is real."
Officials fear runoff from snowmelt and rain will bring added complications, according to the AP. Saturated soil could cause trees already weakened by heavy snowfall to topple. The National Weather Service warned of wind gusts up to 60 miles per hour that could down electrical wires and prompt power outages. Flood warnings were issued for several counties near Buffalo through Wednesday.
"The melting has started and should go on for 16 to 18 hours," the Weather Channel’s lead meteorologist, Kevin Roth, told NBC News. "It's still too early to know how it will turn out for sure, but right now it has not been as bad as we expected. The rain is moving quickly so will not be over the area for as long as was forecast."
Gov. Andrew Cuomo told families to "err on the side of caution” at a news conference in Cheektowaga on Sunday. Residents began to evacuate and schools remained closed Monday in anticipation of the flooding. "You prepare for the worst and hope for the best, and that's what we're doing,” Cuomo said.