Brattleboro, Vermont -- Rain and warm temperatures expected this weekend, combined with continuing snowmelt, are raising water levels and flood worries in southern Vermont.

The National Weather Service in Albany, N.Y., issued a flood watch Friday for southern Vermont, in effect through this afternoon. A flood watch means there is a potential for flooding based on current forecasts. Forecasters are expecting between a half inch to an inch of rain Friday and today, which may cause some rivers minor flooding. Rain is also in the forecast for Sunday and Monday.

Mark Bosma, a spokesman for Vermont Emergency Management, said if there was flooding it is likely to be minor, but it is impossible to know for certain.

"If you're in Vermont for any extended period, you know that there are no certainties, so we have to prepare for any possibility," he said

In Brattleboro, the fire department can do little except wait, watch and be ready to act.

"We can't do anything other than keep an eye on (the streams) and try to anticipate what may happen," Fire Chief Mike Bucossi said.

Bucossi said he checked the water levels in the Whetstone, Ames Hills and Bonnyvale brooks and the West River before going home Thursday night and then several times Friday. Snowmelt from the warm weather this week has already produced high flows on rivers, streams and creeks in the area. More melting took place with the rain that moved into the area Friday morning.

"An inch of rain under normal circumstances would be nothing to us," Bucossi said. "I'm hoping with the slow melt and (the fact that) there's not a forecast for a great amount of rain, that it will be OK."

Steady, long periods of rain would be the worst case scenario, he said. The best would be warm, sunny days and colder nights, "truly a lot like sap," he said. The forecast for this weekend falls in between these two scenarios.

"There's still a lot of snow in the woods and up in the hills," Bucossi said. "The ground is still very wet. The showery weather just keeps things wet, so if we have another big rain storm come in, there'll be nowhere for it to soak in and it'll run into the rivers and brooks."

If flooding does occur, the fire department may need to evacuate some areas of West Brattleboro along the Whetstone, particularly Melrose Terrace and the Mountain Home and Glen trailer parks. If evacuations are needed, Brattleboro would open up the Gibson-Aiken Center as an emergency shelter, Bucossi said.

Despite record snowfalls in some areas, this winter was more traditional for Vermont, Bosma said. "We still have a foot or two in the mountains (in the north). There's a lot of water content in that. If it warms up quickly, that'll cause some problems. It's traditional for Vermont, the snow melts, the rivers get jammed up and it causes localized flooding."

According to the National Weather Service's Advanced Hydrologic Prediction Service, the Connecticut River at North Walpole, N.H., is expected to rise near its flood stage of 28 feet by Sunday morning. The Saxtons and Williams rivers in Rockingham and the West River in Townshend are all close to flood stage, but are not expected to reach that level by Sunday.

Bucossi said residents should be prepared. "People know that they're prone to flooding or flooded basements," he said. "People who have sump pumps, make sure to have them serviced to make sure they're working properly and draining properly. Keep an eye out and (don't) assume anything."

"If we get extended rain, it's a good idea to check the radio or TV to see if there are any evacuation orders," Bosma said. "The preparation that individuals do is critical."

The Associated Press contributed to this report.