Madison public works prepares for potential flood weekend


Madison public works crews cleaned out most of the city’s storm drains in preparations for this weekend’s expected heavy rain

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MADISON, Ala.- We've made it to December without any lingering snow or ice threat in northern Alabama.

But city workers in Madison say this weekend's weather could create some problems on the roads.

They're concerned about the potential for flash flooding.

Two inches of rain is problematic, especially in places where excess leaves could be clogging storm drains.

There are only two weeks until winter arrives.

But this year, most of the leaves around Madison County didn't drop until after Halloween.

Madison public works maintenance crew chief Mike Gentle said this creates problems with winter weather.

"This was a late leaf falling year, I'd say," he explained. "Leaves are very slick when they get wet, it's just like ice."

So, while you may think it'd be smooth sailing for Madison public works, cruising to December with no threat of snow or ice. A forecast of heavy rain is enough to get their attention.

"We do have a standby crew for the whole weekend," Gentle stated.

In his time with the city, Gentle has seen several wet Decembers. So, he knows what two inches of rain and a pile of leaves can do to a storm drain. That's why he had his public works crew on Friday cleaning the gutters, making sure the grates are great.

"It could happen very quickly, that's why they call it flash flooding," Gentle mused.

City leaders already called off the planned Christmas parade for the threat of rain. But Gentle says with two weeks to Christmas, there's no way people are staying home.

"There are a lot of Christmas parties going on at night," Gentle said.

The trouble spots are cleaned up, but Gentle is urging drivers in Madison to slow down this weekend.

Madison has a couple snowplows, but doesn't expect to need them in the next week.

For slick roads, there's no pre-treat to spray. Gentle says they'll put down a sand gravel mixture on the bridges and overpasses if it's looking like ice. They also have salt they can use if necessary.