CAPITAL REGION — Ice jams and fast-flowing water overnight Thursday led to flooding concerns in Schenectady and an out-on-control tour boat hitting a historic railroad bridge in Albany.
In Schenectady, some residents along the Mohawk River in the Stockade neighborhood were cautioned Friday morning to be ready to evacuate due to possible flooding, but the fast-rising river peaked around noon, before flooding occurred, and began rapidly dropping.
The combination of ice jams in the river, heavy rain on Thursday and this week’s earlier high temperatures causing snowmelt had already created flooding problems in the western Mohawk Valley, and street flooding on Thursday in the village of Fonda.
Based on those conditions and a several-foot rise in the Mohawk overnight, Schenectady police Friday morning warned of potential problems in the Stockade, where flooding happens almost annually.
The river peaked at 218.3 feet above sea level, but dropped more than two feet from by mid-afternoon. The minor flood stage is 220 feet, but active warnings start at 216 feet. The normal river level is about 210 feet.
River levels are monitored by the Schenectady police and fire departments and the Schenectady County Office of Emergency Management, which issues emergency evacuation orders when necessary through a phone alert system.
“We are watching,” said Schenectady County spokesman Joe McQueen. “There is a little damming by Knolls (Atomic Power Laboratory), which is one of the areas that dams, but there is free-flowing water underneath it, and that’s always good sign — but we’re going to monitor it.”
Residents with unlisted phone numbers or cellular phone numbers are being urged to register with the Schenectady County emergency rapid notification call system so they can receive alerts.
Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s office said the state Canal Corporation has a contractor on standby to send to Erie Canal Locks 8-10 in Schenectady and Montgomery counties to remove any jams if they did occur.
McQueen said Schenectady County isn’t aware of any problems developing to the west.
In Troy and Albany, meanwhile, main bridges across the Hudson River were closed for several hours early Friday morning after boats and barges moored on the river in Troy broke free and were pushed downriver by the strong current and chunks of ice. The Congress Street Bridge was closed as a precaution after being struck, but later re-opened.
The Captain J.P. III, a four-story excursion boat based in Troy, became loose along with several other boats due to rising water and ice, and was carried downstream until it struck the Livingston Avenue Amtrak railroad bridge between Albany and Rensselaer, where it became stuck against the bridge structure. Passenger trains were continuing to use the bridge, though at very low speeds.
Tugboats late Friday morning pulled the Captain J.P. III free.