CAPITAL REGION — Thousands of residents across the Capital Region were left without power Friday morning and others struggled with road closures, downed power lines and flash flooding in the wake of a major storm that struck the region and much of upstate overnight.
A handful of school districts canceled school Friday, while many let students out early and even more canceled afterschool activities and practices. The sectionals cross country meet scheduled for Saratoga Springs on Friday was postponed until Monday.
A longtime priest in the Albany Roman Catholic Diocese, Father Thomas Connery, who served for nearly 20 years at Glenville's Immaculate Conception Church, perished in flash flood waters as he drove to a Mass in Herkimer on Thursday night.
Shortly after noon, the governor included Saratoga and Montgomery counties in a band of 11 counties stretching from Erie County to Warren County declared as part of a state of emergency.
National Grid and road crews worked throughout the day to clean up streets and restore power after the overnight storm of heavy rainfall and high winds knocked out power for thousands. Friday morning, around 15,000 National Grid customers in Saratoga Springs and Ballston Spa were without power. A similar number remained without power Friday evening.
There were over 50 separate power outages affecting nearly 7,000 households in the Saratoga Springs area alone as of 10:30 a.m., according to the National Grid power outage map. Around Ballston Spa, the company reported 70 outages affecting over 10,000 customers. Other outages left smaller numbers of residents without power across the region. Over 40 outages in the Schenectady area left more than 3,000 customers with outages, according to the map.
While water levels on the Mohawk River in Schenectady spiked overnight, they remained slightly below flood level as of Friday morning. The National Weather Service at 11:45 a.m. issued a formal flood warning for the Mohawk River. At 11 a.m., the river reached 218 feet above sea level, less than two feet below flood stage. Minor flooding was forecast; a small amount of water had washed into the edge of the parking lot at Jumpin' Jacks closest to the river. Water was also reported in Riverside Park in Schenectady's Stockade neighborhood.
The river was projected to reach flood stage at around 1 p.m. on Friday, cresting just above flood stage before falling back below flood levels by 6 p.m. Friday.
"Our field force of 2,300 workers is active across upstate New York removing downed wires, trees, broken poles and other hazards, focusing on public safety and restoring power," National Grid wrote in a message posted to its website. An updated message in the afternoon said that "dangerous wind conditions are expected to continue throughout the day, bringing the potential for further power interruptions."
Due to local power outages and road closures, all Saratoga Springs city schools were closed Friday. In Ballston Spa, the elementary schools were closed the entire day but the district's middle and high school students went in for school in the morning. The district later decided to end the school day for those students at 10:45 a.m. The power went out for a "few minutes" at two Shenendehowa schools, Shatekon and Arongen, according to a district spokesperson.
In the Adirondacks, creeks, streams and rivers overflowed their banks and caused major flooding throughout the region. The Department of Environmental Conservation on Friday cautioned the public from hiking into the Adirondack backcountry this weekend, suggesting people avoid the area's trails and summits. The state agency warned that bridges were washed out, stream crossings are impassable, trails are flooded and mountain summits posed risks of rock slides and falling debris.
"DEC anticipates that damage in the backcountry will be extensive and that these areas are unstable and dangerous to visitors," DEC warned.
State Route 73 in Keene Valley, a major thoroughfare from the Northway to Lake Placid in the High Peaks, was closed Friday, according to a report from the Adirondack Daily Enterprise in Saranac Lake. In other parts of the Adirondacks, large portions of roadway were washed away by flood waters.
Flash flooding was particularly bad just west of the Capital Region, where the East Canada Creek, which flows south from the Adirondacks, busted through a levee and forced evacuations.
Gov. Andrew Cuomo's office Friday morning posted pictures and video from the scene of flooding in Dolgeville, a town on East Canada Creek northwest of St. Johnsville.
Roads across the Capital Region were closed or effectively blocked by downed trees as commuters made their way to work Friday morning. A state trooper could be seen removing tree branches from the far right lane of the Northway near Saratoga exit 15. State Route 7, or Duanesburg Road, in Rotterdam was closed between Dunnsville Road and Burdeck Street until further notice due to multiple telephone poles and wires down. Parts of Route 30 caved in near Indian Lake. Route 10 was closed in Caroga Lake. And countless other roads and parts of roads were closed, damaged or lost entirely during the storm and the flooding that followed.