Thursday, April 28, 2011

Major Flooding Across the Adirondacks (Updated 6 PM Thurs)

This winter’s deep snow pack combined with heavy rains this week have left lakes and ponds brimming, and rivers and streams swollen with cold and fast water. All major rivers are above flood stage and major flooding is occurring and expected to continue through Friday. More than 75 roads around the region have been reported closed, several roads and bridges have collapsed, and major flooding has forced, or may soon force evacuations along the Hudson, Schroon, Ausable, Bouquet, Saranac, and Raquette Rivers, and along Mill Brook in Moriah, which has been hard hit.

One of the worst hit areas was in Moriah, where Mill Brook Dam overflowed after one of the steady line of storms in the region this week. The Broad Street railroad bridge and the Titus Road Bridge collapsed, undermined by flood waters. Water and sewer lines have been broken and the Mineville-Witherbee fire chief was hospitalized after a road collapsed under his vehicle.

There were evacuations in Keeseville, and major flooding in Keene Valley and AuSable Forks where the Ausable River has reached four feet above flood stage, and those in Jay are trying to hold back flood waters with sandbags. More than 10 roads were closed in Jay alone, including Route 9N between Keene and Upper Jay and Jay and Au Sable Forks. Route 73 is closed at the bridge over the East Branch of the Ausable River in Keene, and at the ski jumps in North Elba, but at 11 am, one lane remained open through Chapel Pond and Cascade passes. The Bouquet River topped its banks and closed Route 9 from Elizabethtown to North Hudson and Route 9 near Split Rock Falls.

The Saranac River system has left officials struggling to try and regulate tremendous flow and communities from the Saranac Lakes to Lake Champlain are experiencing flooding. The gates on the Lower Locks, between First Pond and Oseetah Lake, are closed and waters are threatening to overtop the locks, which could damage them. In consultation with the Village of Saranac Lake, DEC has opened the sluice gates to prevent water from overtopping the dam. High waters and a large amount of debris are blocking the Upper Locks from being opened and both locks are closed until further notice. The Village has been gradually opening the floodgates on the Lake Flower Dam to reduce pressure on the dam. There have been evacuations along the river, including in Bloomingdale, and in the towns of Harrietstown, St. Armand and Franklin. Lake Flower has flood homes, businesses and roads above the village dam.

Hudson River topped its banks in North Creek Wednesday stranding some residents along Old River Road and requiring evacuations. Water is at the steps of the North Creek Train Depot and the river has risen to a record level, but the most dire threat is now below The Glen toward Luzerne and Hadley. About ten roads were closed in Johnsburg including Thirteenth Lake Road, which was washed out in two places after culverts clogged. Hudson River flooding is ongoing or expected in North Creek, Riparius, Chester, Warrensburg, Thurman, Stony Creek, Hadley and Moreau. Storms earlier this week temporarily knocked out a communications tower limiting Warren County emergency communications, and taking North Country Public Radio temporarily off the air.

The Schroon River jumped its banks above Schroon Lake, but more serious flooding is expected below Schroon Lake toward Chester and Warrensburg. Riverbank, near Northway Exit 24, is flooded with the Schroon River approaching nearly 3 feet above flood stage. Trout Creek, which flows into the Schroon River in Pottersville, left its banks and the operators of Natural Stone Bridge and Caves are reporting the worst flooding there in 15 years [photos].

In Hamilton County, Lake Abanakee has crested its dam adding water to the already swollen Hudson. There has been serious flooding in Long Lake, where water has covered Route 30, and also in Indian Lake where at least one road was reported washed out [photos]. Route 10 in Arietta and Route 30 in Hope are still open, but being watched carefully.

Numerous major highways and secondary roads have been closed due to flooding and washouts. Any bridge over a major stream or river, and any road running near open water currently has the possibility of closure. Roads that have been recently or are now closed include: Route 28 north of North Creek; Route 28N between Blue Mountain Lake and Long Lake; Route 30 at the bridge over Long Lake and at the bridge over the Cedar River north of Indian Lake; Route 86 in Wilmington Notch between Wilmington and Lake Placid; Route 73 at the bridge over the West Branch of the Ausable River near the ski jumps outside of Lake Placid; Route 73 at the bridge over the East Branch of the Ausable River in Keene; Route 9N between Keene and Upper Jay; Route 9 where it crosses the South Branch of the Boquet River and near Split Rock Falls between Elizabethtown and Exit 30 of the Northway; Thirteenth Lake Road in Johnsburg; Route 28N between Long Lake and Tupper Lake; Schroon River Road at Riverbank; Route 8 between Route 28 in Poland, Route 12 and Route 28 in Deerfield, and Route 10 in Piseco; Route 28 over West Canada Creek between Route 29 and Route 169 in Middleville; Route 5 between Route 5B and Route 233 in Kirkland; Route 922E (River St) between Route 49 and Route 69 in Whitestown and Marcy and the village of Whitesboro; and Route 315 between Route 12 and County Route 9 (Shanley Rd) in Sangerfield. DEC has closed most roadways for mud season. Gates on roads designated for motor vehicle traffic will be reopened when conditions warrant.

Along the Raquette River, Brookfield Renewable Power is releasing water from the Carry Falls Reservoir in Colton and has told officials in Colton, Pierrepont, Potsdam, Norwood, Norfolk and Massena that flooding was possible.

Luckily, most river ice went out over the past few weeks, so the threat of ice jams had ended, but waters were already high and the ground saturated before heavy rains and warm weather came this week.

DEC is discouraging the public from entering the woods or accessing the waters of the Adirondacks due to closed roads, impassable river, stream and brook crossings, flooded trails and campsites, and the High Wind Warning that has been issued for Thursday afternoon and evening. Saturated soils could result in numerous trees being toppled and tails and campsites may be covered and blocked by fallen trees and other blowdown. The danger of landslides on mountain slopes is currently high.

Docks, boat launches, and low-lying waterfront property across the region’s lakes and reservoirs are submerged by high waters. Lake Champlain set the highest level ever recorded on the USGS gage at almost two feet above flood stage. Fields are flooded in Crown Point and major flooding has been reported in Rouses Point and Essex [photos].

Most DEC boat launches in the region are flooded, making it risky to launch and retrieve boats. Boaters and paddlers should be aware that waters are cold and swift and may contain logs, limbs and other debris. High waters also conceal navigation hazards such as boulders, rock shelves, docks and other structures that normally are easily seen and avoided. Paddlers consult the latest stream gage data and use extreme caution.

This post will be updated periodically throughout the day as new reports come in. The full weekly Adirondack Conditions Report will run this afternoon here at the Almanack, and Friday morning on WNBZ (AM 920 & 1240, FM 105 & 102.1) and the stations of North Country Public Radio.

Photo: Trout Brook at Pottersville’s Natural Stone Bridge and Caves Park . Photo courtesy Natural Stone Bridge and Caves.

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John Warren has been exploring the woods and waters of the Adirondacks for more than 45 years. After a career as a print journalist and documentary television producer he founded Adirondack Almanack in 2005 and co-founded Adirondack Atlas in 2015.

John's Adirondack Outdoors Conditions Report can be heard Friday mornings across the region on North Country Public Radio and on WSLP Lake Placid.

He is also on the staff of the New York State Writers Institute and edits The New York History Blog. He is the author of two books of regional history.




3 Responses

  1. Megan says:

    I spent some time in the woods of the Split Rock Falls area. The force from this storm has left the dangerous shelf of rock in the second set of falls down in the gorge that has claimed too many lives over the years has been ripped away, along with some large boulders which formed that pool. Sections of the Boquet river look like a back hoe came through and leveled the banks. The landscape has been changed. If you haven’t been to the Adirondacks in awhile, go again. Ages of erosion happened practically overnight from this storm.

  2. jim says:

    Friday we tried to climb Marcy but were turned back at Indian Falls where the Marcy brook was over its banks flooding the surrounding area with 2-3 feet of water topped in slush