Flood watch, wind advisory issued for Christmas Day

City road crews continure snow removal at Avenue B and Mason Street in Schenectady Wednesday, December 23, 2020.
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City road crews continure snow removal at Avenue B and Mason Street in Schenectady Wednesday, December 23, 2020.

SCHENECTADY — Santa may need to swap his sleigh for a boat as heavy rains overnight Friday bring the prospects for flooding in the Capital Region.

The National Weather Service has issued a flood watch for all of eastern New York from Thursday evening to Friday at 6 p.m. as a result of temperatures soaring to the mid-50s paired with 1 to 3 inches of rain.

“Rain is moving in and it’s going to come down heavy at times tonight,” said Ingrid Amberger, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Albany.

Temperatures are expected to reach the upper 50s by late morning before dropping to the 40s at sunset and the 20s at night, Amberger said.

Runoff paired with snow melt has the potential to overflow rivers and waterways, she said.

“Between those two things, we’re going to see rapid river risings,” Amberger said. “At this time, the Mohawk River at Freeman’s Bridge Road is not forecast to go over or flood. However, that could change as the event unfolds.”

The National Weather Service also issued a wind advisory beginning at 6 p.m. Friday. Forecasters predict strong and gusty southeast winds Friday night of between 40 to 50 mph.

Strong winds could result in downed trees and power lines, as well as unsecured Christmas decorations blowing around, according to the advisory.

Assistant Fire Chief Don Mareno said officials are monitoring the Mohawk River and will check water levels on a regular basis.

“We don’t think there’s going to be an issue for Schenectady,” Mareno said. “We think it’ll reach the banks of the Mohawk but not crest it.”

Mareno, however, acknowledged the prospects of localized flooding in low-lying areas in the city, including under bridges, which are places that flood every year

He warned people not to drive through standing water, citing actual depths may be deeper than they appear, and check their basements, as well as steer clear of downed power lines.

Schoharie Creek is also under a flood advisory.

“We’re looking at minor to moderate flooding through Schoharie Creek in Schoharie County,” Amberger said.

Amberger urged the public to heed barriers erected by local officials. Most deaths during flooding, she said, are automobile-related.

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