Monday, November 4, 2019

Adirondack Flooding: An Update And Primer

Heavy rain has led to historic flooding in parts of the Adirondacks. Lakes and ponds are brimming and rivers and streams swollen with cold and fast water. The most affected areas include Hamilton, Herkimer, Warren and Essex counties, including the western slopes of the Champlain and Lake George Valleys.

At least one person lost their life driving into a flooded roadway and flooding continues to occur in some lowland areas, including along the Schroon River.  State Roads are closed in several places, and numerous secondary roads remain closed. Some buildings and other structures have been destroyed, and many more are flooded. You can find the latest road closure information for Routes 30 and 8 at

When heavy rains fall on saturated soils, the potential for landslides also increases. That’s what happened during the 1963 Giant Mountain Landslide, and during Tropical Storm Irene in 2011, for a second time in a year which was notable for its weather.  After Irene, Phil Brown wrote a piece quantifying how much water the storm dropped and a look at the new slides that were created in the High Peaks.  After Irene, Almanack contributor Larry Gooley recalled the historic floods of 1957 and 1979.

More powerful storms and increased precipitation have been expected in the Adirondacks due to climate change. Communities along the Ausable River for example, have been working to replace older culverts with larger, better designed ones that benefit people and wildlife. After Irene, aerial photos captured Lake Champlain sediment plumes.  After major storms, waters around the Adirondacks are impacted by stormwater run-off, sometimes accompanied by sewage discharges, and road salt.

Floodplain forests are a part of the Adirondacks however, and minor flooding is fairly common. Paul Hetzler recently wrote an essay about how flooding impacts local trees and you can read all about Adirondack wetlands here.

Water pouring through AuSable Chasm on Friday.

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8 Responses

  1. MudRat says:

    Slides were also triggered by this event. It looks like some areas including Whiteface Ski slide #4 (and perhaps something to its right) as well as Gothics E Face were affected. I’d guess that there were other slide to some degree or another on other mountains, but don’t have any more information at this time.

  2. Jim Fox says:

    Stillwater Reservoir is about seven feet higher than the 90 year average elevation for the beginning of November. It rose two feet in one day!

  3. LakeChamplain says:

    Does anyone know if there were any videos taken of the flooding and/or raging rivers around Keene Valley last Thursday and Friday? I still recall after Irene seeing two videos that ‘stuck’ with me: one, a video taken at John’s Brook Lodge of a raging brook at their doorstep; the power of the flooding brook was palpable. And two, an aerial scan taken of the high peaks and the many new and enlarged slides that Irene created.
    With the increased use of drones it would seem to be both useful and interesting to see what, if any, effects the Halloween downpours created in the high peaks in particular.

  4. Pablo says:

    This story isn’t much of an update. What is still flooded? Who lost their life? Doesn’t tell us. Fail.

  5. Boreas says:

    I found the link above to the 1963 Giant Mt. landslide very interesting. Had never seen the pix before. Thanks!

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