Schenectady County

Officials: Warm temps could bring late-week flooding

High temperature Monday was 56-degrees at Albany airport
No coat was needed on Monday in Congress Park, Saratoga Springs, due to unseasonably mild temperatures.
No coat was needed on Monday in Congress Park, Saratoga Springs, due to unseasonably mild temperatures.

Schenectady county and city officials will monitor the Mohawk River closely over the next few days, amid fears that warm weather Monday and Tuesday could bring flooding later in the week.

Snowmelt takes several days to drain from the watershed, and a seven-day National Weather Service forecast predicts warm temperatures early in the week will bring higher river levels in Schenectady by Friday, with a potential for precautionary advisories and, in the worst case, minor flooding.

“We’re watching it,” said National Weather Service meteorologist Tom Wasula, in Albany. “We don’t have any flood warnings or watches at this point. Basically, we’re dealing with a lot of snowmelt and not a lot of precipitation, but we are monitoring it for later in the week.”

The official high temperature at Albany International Airport hit 56 degrees Monday, but that was still well short of the 61-degree record for the date that was set in 1991, Wasula said.

Schenectady County spokesman Joe McQueen said there were some ice backups Monday at two spots were they often occur: river bends near the Knolls Atomic Power Laboratory in Niskayuna and below Erie Canal Lock 8 in Rotterdam.

“But the water is flowing pretty freely underneath,” he said.

County public works officials were modeling whether high water would occur later in the week, McQueen said. City public safety officials also monitor the river on a regular basis.

The state Canal Corp. has a contractor on standby in case ice jams develop at Erie Canal Locks 8, 9, and 10 in Schenectady and Montgomery counties, Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo’s office said.

Cuomo issued a statewide advisory for people in flood-prone areas to be on alert to the potential for snowmelt to swell rivers and streams, along with the possibility of ice breaking and forming jams that block streams.

Ice jams during a thaw that included heavy rain on Jan. 24-25 lead to minor flooding along the Mohawk in Oneida County, a threat to the Stockade neighborhood in Schenectady and a rapid rise on the Hudson River that broke several boats and barges free of their moorings in Troy, sending them floating unmanned down the river to Albany.

Temperatures were expected to be in the 40s on Tuesday, according to the National Weather Service in Albany. While that will cause more snowmelt, there was no significant rainfall expected, according to the Weather Service forecast.

The U.S. Geological Survey gauge on the Mohawk at Freeman’s Bridge was at 211 feet above sea level Monday, nearly 10 feet below flood stage. Precautionary advisories start when the river reaches 216 feet, which the National Weather Service said could happen on Friday.

Reach Daily Gazette reporter Stephen Williams at 518-395-3086, [email protected] or @gazettesteve on Twitter.

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