Port Huron City Manager Bruce Brown told about 40 homeowners Thursday that the Black River likely will flood, the Times Herald reported. In past years, flooding damaged homes and businesses near the river's banks.
"It's an event that's very likely going to happen," Brown said. "We're going to see a moderate flood event in east Michigan and certainly in Port Huron."
Melting snow and ice combine with rain to cause heavy water flow into the river.
"The best thing that can happen is a slow melt and no rain." Brown said.
Public Safety Director Michael Reaves said the city is trying to be proactive, including hiring a tugboat to break ice. Brown said ice jammed the Black River in 2009, with flooding causing $540,000 worth of damage.
He said the city has 5,000 sandbags prepared in case of flooding.
Terry Krueger, who lives near the river, was anxious to hear the city's plans. She said she expects the weather to offer some surprises.
"Hopefully nature will take care of itself, and we'll have a slow melt," Kruger said.
In western Michigan, forecasters said this week it could take just one major rainfall this spring to push the Grand River and other area rivers over their banks, The Grand Rapids Press reported. The area was hit by major flooding last year.
National Weather Service meteorologists from across the state were cautious about the potential for significant flooding during a conference call this week. A quick warm-up and heavy rain could cause problems.
An 18-inch snowpack was recorded at the weather service's Grand Rapids office, with a liquid water equivalency of 5.2 inches. That essentially equals one significant rainstorm, meteorologist Mark Walton said.
At this time last year, officials said, western Michigan had up to about 1 to 2 inches of water in its 4- to 10-inch snowpack.
"There's a drastic difference between this year's scenario and last year's scenario," Walton said. "This causes us great concern."
Flooding along the Grand River last April was due in part to two heavy rain storms in the same week, leading to historic river rises in downtown Grand Rapids and significant flooding outside the city.
According to the weather service in Pontiac, which handles southeastern Michigan, there is a threat for spring flooding for rivers such as the River Raisin in Monroe and Lenawee counties and the Huron River near Flat Rock.
Current river levels are below average this week, the Monroe News reported, and no major thaw is expected at least through the first part of March.