FORT WAYNE – The National Weather Service issued a flood watch Friday, as heavy rain is expected to send rivers rising to near flood levels.
Meteorologists expect a strong storm system to organize across the southern Plains today and move through the southern Great Lakes and the Ohio Valley regions, bringing heavy rain today and Sunday.
The system will create a stew of foul weekend weather across the country just as holiday travel ramps up, from freezing rain then snow in the north to torrential rain in the Ohio Valley and Appalachia and possibly even tornadoes in parts of the South.
The National Weather Service issued a flash flood watch from Arkansas northeastward through parts of Missouri, Illinois, Indiana and Ohio, with up to 4 inches of rain projected in some areas. With falling temperatures, some of that could be freezing rain by tonight in the St. Louis area, weather service meteorologist Jon Carney said.
Kansas City, Mo., was bracing for freezing rain, then 6 inches of snow. In New England, Nikki Becker of the National Weather Service said much of Maine and parts of New Hampshire could get up to a half-inch of ice tonight through Sunday morning.
In northeast Indiana, officials predicted 1 to 3 inches of rain. That, combined with melting snow, could lead to flooding in creeks, streams and low-lying areas.
The St. Marys River in Decatur is forecast to hit its flood stage of 17 feet Sunday afternoon and crest at 19.2 feet Tuesday. Downstream in Fort Wayne, the river is expected to be at 13.5 feet Tuesday evening. Flood stage in Fort Wayne is 14 feet.
The Wabash River in Bluffton is expected to crest just below its flood stage of 10 feet on Sunday afternoon.
The Maumee River in Fort Wayne is expected to crest at 15.8 feet Sunday, more than a foot below its 17-foot flood stage.
The St. Joseph River in Newville is forecast to crest at its flood stage of 12 feet Sunday afternoon.
The situation will be helped immensely by the fact that rivers are low right now, so there is extra room to hold water. The Maumee River in Fort Wayne, for example, was at 2 feet Friday afternoon.
High water wont be the only worry: AccuWeather forecasters say temperatures in Fort Wayne could drop below freezing Sunday, which means wet roads could turn to glare ice. Indiana Department of Transportation officials are warning drivers to take extra caution Sunday and Monday to watch for ice.
Mondays forecast calls for snow with a high of 24 and a low of 9.
The Associated Press contributed to this story.