New Yorkers warned of potential ice jam flooding as warmer temperatures sweep state

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ALBANY, N.Y. (WWTI) — Warm temperatures are sweeping across New York State, creating conditions for a new weather hazard.

On Wednesday, Governor Andrew Cuomo urged the public to prepare for possible ice jam flooding as temperatures across the state are expected to rise this week and throughout the spring season.

According to the National Weather Service, most locations across the state will see the highest temperatures of 2021 so far, with highs ranging from the high 50s to low 60s over a three day period. Experts have anticipated that the melting snow could reach rainfall equivalents of one to three inches, and a storm will bring rain on Thursday and Friday.

With these predictions, state agencies have begun to monitor areas that typically experience ice jam formations and response assets are prepared to assist in the event of a flood.

“This is the time of year when a spate of rising temperatures can dislodge ice jams on rivers and streams, causing flooding for local communities and damaging homes and property,” stated Governor Cuomo. “While ice jam flooding is hard to predict with much precision, our state agencies are monitoring New York’s problematic areas and preparing assets to assist local governments in case of a major event.”

Ice jams occur when pieces of floating ice obstruct the flow of a body of water, causing flooding. A Flood Watch has been issued by the National Weather Service for Erie County remains in effect from today until Friday morning due to ice jam accumulations on the Cazenovia Creek and Buffalo River.

The State has urged local governments to contact the Department of Environmental Conservation for assistance with permits necessary to do work removing ice jams. Additionally, residents in areas prone to ice jam flooding should take precautions and monitor local weather forecasts for changing conditions.

New Yorkers are encouraged to prepare for these events by adhering by the following safety tips:

  • Learn the safest route from a home or business to high, safe ground
  • Develop and practice a ‘family escape’ plan and identify a meeting place if family members become separated.
  • Make an itemized list of all valuables including furnishings, clothing and other personal property
  • Stockpile emergency supplies of canned food, medicine and first aid supplies and drinking water. Store drinking water in clean, closed containers
  • Make a plan for pets
  • Have a portable radio, flashlights, extra batteries and emergency cooking equipment available.
  • Keep personal vehicles fueled
  • Find out how many feet your property is above and below possible flood levels
  • Keep materials like sandbags, plywood, plastic sheeting and lumber on hand
  • Check insurance coverage. Homeowners’ insurance policies generally do not cover flood damages

The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation, Power Authority and Canal Corporation, Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Services, Department of Transportation, Thruway Authority and New York State Police are all taking action to prepare for possible flooding events.

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