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What you need to know for 10/23/2017

Flooding unlikely locally despite warm-up

Flooding unlikely locally despite warm-up

Snowfall last week elevated the springtime flood potential from below normal to normal, but warmer t
Flooding unlikely locally despite warm-up
The Mohawk River is calm with ice chucks lining the shores of the Isles of the Oneidas between Rotterdam and Scotia on Thursday.
Photographer: Marc Schultz

Snowfall last week elevated the springtime flood potential from below normal to normal, but warmer temperatures forecast for the next few days are not expected to cause major issues, according the National Weather Service.

Two weeks ago, limited snow surrounding Capital Region waterways put snowmelt flooding potential below normal.

Following a pounding of snow last week, the National Weather Service’s flood potential outlook is now above normal for this time of year — except for the Adirondacks.

The amount of water in the snow surrounding the Schoharie Creek was estimated at 1.56 inches on Feb. 6. That figure jumped to 5.05 inches under Thursday’s flood potential outlook.

Snow water equivalent hovering over the Mohawk River basin jumped from 1.21 inches two weeks ago to 2.52 inches by Thursday.

Ice on waterways such as the Mohawk River isn’t expected to go anywhere in the next two weeks, leaving the potential for more severe issues further into the spring.

The ice thickness was estimated at about 6 inches two weeks ago and grew to approximately 8 inches by Thursday.

National Weather Service hydrologist Britt Westergard said above-freezing temperatures are expected in the next couple days, but the temperature will drop during the evenings, minimizing the chance for severe melting.

Precipitation is expected to bolster the amount of water in the hills surrounding waterways, leading meteorologists to expect an increase in the potential for flooding due to ice jams.

Guy Barton, mayor of the Montgomery County village of Fort Plain, said he’s asking residents to keep an eye on the Otsquago Creek that runs through the village and leads to the Mohawk River.

Though devastated by a mid-summer flash flood last year, history has shown the village is more prone to damage from flooding during the late winter and spring.

“A quick thaw will do us damage,” Barton said.

He said authorities were monitoring continued ice jamming on the Otsquago south of Montgomery County in Starkville, Herkimer County.

Other springtime flooding factors the National Weather Service is monitoring include soil moisture and ground frost.

Soil moisture is considered seasonally normal and above normal in some places, with the ground frozen to a depth of 20 inches.

Most reservoirs and lakes are normal, but New York City reservoirs, including the Schoharie Reservoir — held back by the Gilboa Dam — are roughly 1 percent above normal, according to the National Weather Service.

The National Weather Service is forecasting below-normal temperatures and above-normal precipitation for the period between Feb. 27 and March 5, adding more fuel to the potential for a severe spring.

Westergard said a severe outcome in terms of springtime flooding would require, in general, three days at close to 60 degrees, along with rainfall.

The National Weather Service’s next Flood Potential Outlook is scheduled to be published March 6.

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