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April 15, 2014

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Brief thaw lifts sprits and raises flooding risks

Updated Wednesday, Feb. 19, 2014 | 1:03 p.m.

CHICAGO (AP) — Shrinking mounds of snow and growing puddles are signaling that one of the most brutal winters in memory is about to get miserable in a whole different way.

Weeks of subfreezing weather are giving way, at least briefly, to temperatures in the 40s and 50s, putting many Midwestern and Northeastern cities on guard for flooding, roof collapses and clogged storm drains. Some areas expect a double whammy: warm, springlike air combined with heavy rains that could compound the problem and turn the big melt into a muddy, damaging mess.

In Chicago, the National Weather Service issued an advisory Wednesday warning that ice and snow may not melt fast enough to keep the city's drainage system open. Street crews raced to clear catch basins of debris.