Flooding becomes new threat in snowy Buffalo
BUFFALO, New York (AP):After a three-day onslaught that dumped a historic seven feet of snow on the Buffalo area and killed at least 12 people, the sun came out yesterday, but so did predictions of flooding caused by rain and temperatures of up to 60 degrees.
Weather Service meteorologist Jon Hitchcock said there might be trouble with drainage as snow and the uncollected autumn leaves underneath blocked catch basins.
"The biggest flood threat would be on Monday when temperatures are at their warmest," he said. "There could be general urban flooding."
The water tied up in the snow pack — roughly the equivalent of six inches of rain — could be released over the course of two days, said deputy Erie County executive Richard Tobe.
"If it was released as rain it would be a monumental storm," Tobe said. He said flooding would likely affect mostly basements and creeks. The National Weather Service issued a flood watch for today to Wednesday.
"We are preparing now for more flooding than we've seen in a long, long time," Governor Andrew Cuomo said. Cuomo said the state was sending in pumps, boats, helicopters and high-axle vehicles that can operate in four to five feet of water.
"If we're lucky we won't need any of it," he said. "But prepare for the worst and hope for the best."
The snow remained a huge challenge. Officials were still urging people to put off non-essential travel so snow removal efforts could progress. Cuomo reopened a 132-mile stretch of the state Thruway that had been closed since last Tuesday, but several exit ramps remained closed along the westernmost 75 miles.