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Rainfall raises new concerns about floods

September 6, 2011
By AMANDA WHISTLE , The Leader Herald

Rainfall predicted between 1 and 3 inches for areas in the region this week is putting emergency management officials - already reeling from the effects of flooding after Tropical Storm Irene - on edge.

Meteorologists call this week's weather pattern a warm-air advection - when warm air moves in over cold air.

"It's getting caught up and doesn't have enough energy to push all the way through," said National Weather Service Meteorologist Vasil Koleci.

As a result, rain is predicted throughout the region through Thursday.

On Sunday, storms caused flash flooding in some areas. It came at a time some people in Montgomery County were still cleaning up from the effects of Irene.

The National Weather Service in Albany issued a hazardous weather outlook for several counties, including Fulton, Montgomery and Hamilton counties, with a flood watch expected to be issued at some point later today.

The most heavy and persistent rainfall across the western Adirondacks and Mohawk Valley is expected Wednesday with at least 1 to 3 inches of rain possible by Wednesday night.

"We're going to get showers this afternoon, nothing heavy," Koleci said. "We're going to see rain develop after 3 a.m."

As a result, some areas are looking at an additional 1 1/2 to 2 inches of rain.

"We may put out a new flood watch," Koleci said. "The small creeks are usually the ones that rise the fastest. We're keeping a close eye on them."

In Johnstown Sunday, that's exactly what happened with flash flooding caused by a small stream that feeds into the Cayadutta Creek.

It's not an identified creek, but many locals call it Caleb Creek.

"We had an extraordinary amount of rain in a very short period, and that's different than what we're supposed to get this week," said Johnstown City Engineer Chad Kortz.

People should be alert, he said.

"Because of all the rain and saturated conditions, every area is just as susceptible as the next," Kortz said.

Johnstown Fire Chief Bruce Heberer said the department performed 27 pump-outs Sunday until 12:30 a.m. Monday.

He said if the rain comes slowly this week, the small bodies of water in the city can usually handle it.

"With everything being so saturated, anything is possible. I think the bigger danger is if we get


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any wind. The roots are so saturated we could have trees going down," he said.

He said the heaviest flooding Sunday night was on Water and Fulton streets, as well as Washington Street.

Heberer advised people to keep catch basins near their homes clean and clear, and if they have open drains in the basement, make sure they're closed.

He also asked residents to keep the department informed.

Gloversville Fire Department Capt. Robert Davis said the banks of the Cayadutta Creek overflowed Sunday and firefighters performed several pump-outs and replaced manhole covers.

"They kept being pushed out by water coming out of them," Davis said.

Motorists are asked not to drive over manhole covers in that stage because then they must be replaced.

"We're always concerned," Davis said of the creek.

He said the Fire Department has readied all of its pumps and is prepared for any flooding this week.

Dwight Schwabrow, director of emergency management in Montgomery County, said a small creek flooded Sunday afternoon and evening near St. Mary's Cemetery and caused mud and debris to wash down the driveway and onto a small road known as Old Route 5.

"It came over the creek and made a heck of a mess on the bottom," he said. "There were spots in Amsterdam that were flooding along West Main Street."

Schwabrow said if the county gets hit with a heavy downpour, "we're going to have some issues."

"That particular afternoon, it was just the volume of water that fell in a short period of time. If we don't get a lot like that, then I think the small creeks and rivers will handle it," Schwabrow said.

Additionally, Koleci said, there are areas of the Mohawk River that are higher than usual, though with the lock system damaged, the river is low in some areas.

It's not at flood-warning stage yet, but meteorologists are watching, he said.

On Sunday and Monday, rainfall counts available for Fonda equaled 2.41 inches, 1.86 inches in Palatine Bridge and 1.10 inches in Fish House.

Counts for the Glove Cities and Amsterdam were not available from the weather service.

Amanda Whistle can be reached at



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