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False flood warnings due to improperly aligned river gauges?

Saturday, June 22, 2013
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False flood warnings due to improperly aligned river gauges?

I have read in area newspapers and on news websites how the Schenectady Stockade luckily avoided the predicted flood from last week’s heavy rain? Predictions in the media (although not the Gazette) and elsewhere stated definitively that the Mohawk River would rise to 224 feet above sea level, a major flood.

This motivated us in the Stockade to take necessary precautions. These predictions also raised the anxiety level of a community, all too familiar with floods, both modest and severe, and still recovering from the flooding from Tropical Storm Irene, the worst in living memory.

The problem is, the National Weather Service never predicted a major flood for the Stockade. Late in the afternoon on June 13, it predicted a level of 221 feet, a minor flood probably impacting Riverside Park and maybe some basements. Later that evening, it lowered the prediction to 219.5 feet, which would be a very high river, but no flood.

The river eventually crested at 220 feet: very high, but no flood as predicted.

So where did this prediction of 224 feet come from? I suspect from misunderstanding the difference between the “official” and relatively new gauge at Freemans Bridge Road, and the “traditional” visual gauge at North Ferry Street.

A level of 221 feet at Freemans Bridge Road would likely read about 224 feet in the Stockade. This does not mean that the river is three feet higher in the Stockade, but instead means only that the gauges are not aligned. Perhaps someone misinterpreted the damaging impact of the possible flood by confusing the two gauges.

A level of 224 feet, as measured at Freemans Bridge Road, would cause significant flooding. A level of 224 feet at the Ferry Street gauge would not.

I would urge everyone who is concerned about tracking the rise and fall of the Mohawk in Schenectady to become familiar with the National Weather Services website, which monitors its flow based on the readings at Freemans Bridge Road (http://water.weather.gov/ahps2/hydrograph.php?wfo=aly&gage=schn6).

I also urge the media to be more careful about its “predictions.” It is certainly helpful to notify the community that flooding is possible. It would also be reasonable to warn that while minor flooding is expected, the river can be unpredictable and one should take prudent precautions.

However, restating with certainty the misinformation that the river would crest at 224 feet and cause a major flood, which was never predicted by the National Weather Service, is not helpful at all.

Helping neighbors prepare for a serious flood is necessary and useful. Alarming a neighborhood with the wrong information is not

Stephen Boese

Schenectady

DEC too quick to pull trigger on animals

DEC [state Department of Environmental Conservation] shot hundreds of deer in the 1960s to analyze them, then left them to rot. The deer herd has not recovered yet from the doe season then.

Last fall, DEC shot a “strange-acting” bull moose near Lake Placid, to analyze it during the rut. Nothing was found wrong; it was disturbing traffic.

Moose will become agitated, shake their heads and pretend to charge at cars, then trot across roads, where they are hit. They have become known to charge trains in Alaska and Canada. They do not like cars, trains or snowmobiles. Another reason for not having snowmobiles in the wilderness.

Moose have marked 10 or 15 trees around my tent site at different times — also [there’s] a lot of manure there. Bull moose become very agitated, even over tent sites. They have waited until I left, then come in and marked trees [to] say this is their territory. A bear will do the same thing.

I hope DEC doesn’t kill any more moose to analyze them. In my opinion, DEC should have tranquilized it, then taken it to a wildlife rescue to analyze it for a couple of years.

DEC and [the] APA [Adirondack Park Agency] approved a new snowmobile trail by Moose River Plains — 12-feet wide — and cut 2,200 trees to do it [and] more trails are planned. DEC [should] keep new trails by roads or rail trails where they won’t do any harm, especially to animals.

Lewis M. Page Sr.

Speculator

Canoe Island Lodge piece brought back memories

Thanks to the June 16 Gazette for the excellent profile of Canoe Island Lodge.

My wife, Karen, and I both worked at Canoe Island Lodge, better known as CIL to the locals. We had a great time, worked hard, and fell in love there. We ended up having our wedding reception there, too. Bill and Jane Busch ran a tight ship, but knew how to have a good time.

Tom and Carla are carrying on the family tradition well. Bill Busch was an inspiration to many, an example of a self-made man. Nothing was more important than keeping the customer happy and doing the best job you could. His work ethic should be a model for everyone. I learned much from working for him.

Canoe Island Lodge always has been and still remains one of the true gems of Lake George

David S. Bradley

Scotia

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