Last updated: August 25. 2013 6:00AM - 75 Views

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OTTAWA Keeping updated on river levels was the concern raised Wednesday when the Blanchard River Flood Coalition met with representatives from the National Weather Service.Jim Noel, service coordinator hydrologist with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, was the main speaker through teleconference.Noel explained the process on how the hydrologic prediction service develops its river level prediction. He said forecasters use the existing rain gauge measurements along with estimated radar rainfall and snow estimates. Noel said the process can be complicated, especially with snow and ice packs on the ground and in the river and estimating how much water this includes. He also said rainfall estimates can be unpredictable, especially when thunderstorms are involved. He said river levels are normally figured once in the morning and once in the afternoon but increase during flooding and are calculated about every four hours.Deb Bauer, coalition member, said it seems like flood river levels are not updated frequently enough. The weather service said local people needed to give feedback to them during this time. They said Steve Odenweller, with the Office of Public Safety, was good about giving them immediate feedback if he was seeing the river level was not matching with what their prediction map showed.Jim Heringhaus said he needed more timely updates on river levels than four hour updates. I have to be making decisions on when to take steps to move merchandise, he said.Chad Ostheimer, hydrologist with the U.S. Geological Survey, said they update their maps of levels of flooding every hour. Wed love to do it more often, he said. But there is only so much bandwidth we have to use.On a related topic, Ostheimer said the USGS expected to have its flood mapping for the Blanchard River completed by late April or early May. These maps provide an online visual representation of different stages of the river. Jeff Loehrke with the village of Ottawa, said he expected to have a news conference when the maps are completed to explain how the system works. Loehrke also said a public meeting is planned sometime in May to show the options for flood mitigation.You can comment on this story at www.LimaOhio.com.

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