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Flooding in New York

On this page you learn what types of flooding are typical in New York and how do you protect yourself, your family and your home. You will also find out more about significant New York floods. Finally, you'll find links to NWS offices that provide forecast and safety information for New York as well as links to our partners who play a significant role in keeping you safe.

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Significant New York Floods
  • March 1913

    “Whatever trouble mankind has, we had up there”

    Heavy rain and snowmelt on ground already saturated from rainfall earlier in the month led to disastrous flooding on March 27-28, 1913. Flooding affected the Hudson, Genesee, Black and Mohawk Rivers. The rare combination of simultaneous flooding on both the upper Hudson River and Mohawk River led to a crest that remains the flood flow of record on the Hudson River at Albany, with an elevation of 21.45 feet and an estimated (tide affected) flood flow of 240,000 cubic feet per second. Maximum flows of record still stand for the Sacandaga River at Hope, NY (per USGS: maximum discharge, 32,000 feet3/s, Mar. 27, 1913, gage height, 11.0 feet, from flood marks at site then in use), the Hudson River at Fort Edward, NY (per USGS: maximum discharge, 89,100 feet3/s, Mar. 28, 1913, at site about 14 mi upstream) and on the Mohawk River at Little Falls, NY (per USGS: maximum discharge (since at least 1898) before regulation by Hinckley Reservoir, 34,800 feet3/s, Mar. 27, 1913 (from report by R. E. Horton, 1913), at site 01346500 "at Little Falls").

    Several bridges, highways and rail lines were damaged or destroyed by the flood. Several hundred cases of typhoid were reported, likely the result of the Albany city filtration plant being overwhelmed by floodwaters. The devastation prompted legislation that set the foundation for establishing what would eventually become the Hudson River-Black River Regulating District (HRBRRD). The Water Control Commission hearings in 1922, part of the proceedings leading up to the creation of regulating districts, provided some first-hand accounts of the flood of 1913, as excerpted below.

    From Water Control Commission Hearings, testimony of Gerald B. Fitzgerald, Commissioner of Charities of the City of Troy:

    Many people figured that it was like other freshets we had and there wouldn’t be any necessity of leaving their homes, so they stuck to their homes, so we went through the flooded districts with boats and distributed milk and supplies where we knew there were children and babies that needed it, so when the water receded we got some of these people out who were sick and sent them to hospitals when the waters receded some.”

    “I know during the flood we had three or four fires there that the only way they could get apparatus to was through the flooded streets. They had their hose wagons and the firemen had to dive down to the fire plugs to attach the hose. Of course we had no light there in the city for several days. The lighting proposition was out of order, and no trolley cars. I guess whatever trouble mankind has, we had up there.”

    Mr Fitzgerald estimated between 2,600 and 2,700 families and at least 350 retail establishments in Troy were directly affected by the flooding.

    Excerpts from The Floods of 1913 in the rivers of the Ohio and lower Mississippi valleys, US Weather Bureau Bulletin Z by Alfred J. Henry, Professor of Meteorology, published December 31, 1913 by the Government Printing Office also provided some insight to the flood impacts seen in the Capital Region of New York, as enumerated below.

    From the report of George T. Todd, local forecaster at Albany, NY Weather Bureau:

    The greatest loss from the flood was occasioned by persons who, though doing business near the river, were unable to believe that their property would be flooded. When warned they would say that the firm had been in business in that section or store for 50, 75, or 100 years and that their building had never been flooded before except when there was an ice gorge; that they thought this office must be mistaken, and that they did not believe it was possible for the water to reach a height of 21 feet or more without the help of an ice gorge. There was also a considerable loss through the scarcity of help and the comparatively short time allowed for the moving of such a large amount of goods.

    From excerpted report of Robert E. Horton, consulting hydraulic engineer, Albany, NY:

    Heavy rains which were general throughout the state on March 25, 26, and 27 caused floods of unusual magnitude on nearly all streams in New York. Streams in eastern New York reached their highest stages early on the morning of March 28.

    The average rainfall throughout eastern New York from the morning of March 24 to the morning of March 28 was about 4 inches. The amount varied in different localities from 2 and 2.2 inches at Albany to 5 inches or more in the southern Adirondack slope.

    Large areas were overflowed in the most populous and built-up districts at Albany. Troy, Watervliet, and Green Island on the Hudson River and at Schenectady, Fonda, Amsterdam, St. Johnsville, and other towns along the Mohawk River. The entire Mohawk River flats from Little Falls to Schenectady, a distance of 60 miles, were submerged to the greatest depth ever known.

    Many bridges were destroyed, including a highway bridge at Glens Falls across the Hudson River, the Erie Canal bridge across the Hudson River at Northumberland, the highway bridge across the Hudson River at Amsterdam, the highway bridge across the Mohawk River at Herkimer, and the highway bridge across West Canada Creek at Trenton Falls.



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  • August 1955Hurricanes Connie and Diane

    Back-to-back hurricanes, Connie and Diane struck southeast New York in August of 1955. According to the US Weather Bureau monthly flood report for the Albany, NY station, the village of Windham, NY, experienced a flash flood on Catskill Creek as a result of rainfall associated with Hurricane Connie. In general, Connie chiefly served to saturate soils and end a summer-long drought in New York. For example, the 15.15 inches of rain that fell at Slide Mountain, NY, from August 11 to 14 brought the Esopus Creek only up to 12 feet. By contrast, Hurricane Diane brought 5.90 inches of rain to Slide Mountain August 18th-19th, which resulted in disastrous small stream flooding in the Catskills.

    Severe flooding in southeastern New York from Diane was limited mostly to a narrow band from the vicinity of Poughkeepsie to Port Jervis. The Hudson and Mohawk Rivers did not reach flood stage but major to unprecedented flooding occurred in Rondout Creek and Wallkill River basins on the west side of the Hudson. The greatest devastation occurred at the confluence of Beer Kill, Fantine Kill and Mountain Brook with Sandburg Creek in the village of Ellenville where 500 people were driven from their homes; of these, 200 had to be evacuated. Seven homes were demolished along Beer Kill Creek. All previous flood peaks were exceeded on the Wallkill River. Damage was limited mostly to crops and highway flooding from Middletown northward. Wappinger Creek, near Wappingers Falls, NY, exceeded the all-time high stage reached during the hurricane flood of September 1938. Severe flooding occurred through its entire course. The flood in the Neversink River, a tributary of the Delaware in New York, also exceeded previous flood records.

    In New York, four deaths were reported associated with the flooding and the Corps of Engineers estimated Diane caused $17.8 million in damages (in 1955 dollars).

    Excerpts used from: Weather Bureau Technical Paper No. 26: Hurricane Rains and Floods of August 1955, Carolinas to New England, published April 1956 by the US Government Printing Office.

    Map of August 1955 rainfall totals for New York. Note the 15-inch contours in Ulster and Sullivan counties as well as in Orange County (inset). Note also tracks of Hurricanes Connie, through Cattaraugus and Chautauqua Counties, and Diane, off Long Island in inset.

    Map of August 1955 rainfall totals for New York. Note the 15-inch contours in Ulster and Sullivan counties as well as in Orange County (inset). Note also tracks of Hurricanes Connie, through Cattaraugus and Chautauqua Counties, and Diane, off Long Island in  inset.

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  • June 1972Hurricane/Tropical Storm Agnes

    Unlike some other flood producing hurricanes in the northeast, Agnes was not a particularly strong hurricane. In fact, most of its devastation occurred well after the Agnes had been downgraded to a tropical storm. Agnes originated in the Gulf of Mexico and slowly moved up the east coast before moving northwest across Pennsylvania and the southern tier of New York. At this point, the remnants of Agnes joined another large low pressure system and continued to produce heavy rains. During the week prior to Agnes, a large amount of shower activity resulted in widespread areas of over an inch of rain. Heavy rain from Agnes started on the night of June 20 and continued until the June 23.

    Flooding from Agnes affected the Chemung, Susquehanna, Delaware and Genesee River basins in New York. The flooding in New York alone resulted in 24 deaths and damages of approximately $703 million (in 1972 dollars). The Chemung River Basin was particularly hard hit with record flooding. Some river points along the Chemung River broke previous records by over 7 feet. Elmira and Corning were devastated; both cities saw water over their levees and hundreds of homes and businesses inundated. The 24 deaths in New York occurred in Corning.

    Map of rainfall from Hurricane Agnes from Northeast River Forecast Center
    Map of rainfall from Hurricane Agnes from Northeast River Forecast Center

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  • January 1996

    A major flood event occurred on January 19-20, 1996, as a result of rapid meltdown of snowpack along with 2-4 inches of rain. Record flooding occurred on Schoharie Creek as well as significant flooding on Mohawk River at Schenectady and on the Hudson at Albany (15.5 feet - greatest flood peak since New Year’s 1949). The Susquehanna and Delaware river basins also suffered from major flooding, widespread evacuations, and catastrophic damage to infrastructure throughout the valleys. At least nine deaths were attributed to the flood event in New York, including six victims who died when a pond dam collapsed in Delaware County.

    From United States Geological Survey Water Resources Investigations Report 97-4252:

    Damage to highways, bridges, and private property exceeded $100 million (Federal Emergency Management Agency, 1997). The storm and flooding claimed 10 lives, stranded hundreds of people, destroyed or damaged thousands of homes and businesses, and closed hundreds of roads. Forty-one counties in New York were declared Federal disaster areas. The most severely affected region was within and surrounding the Catskill Mountains in southeastern New York. Damages and losses within Delaware County alone exceeded $20 million.

    The more than 4.5 inches of rain that fell on the Catskill Mountain region during January 18-19, combined with melting of as much as 45 in. of snow, resulted in major flooding throughout the region. Other areas of the state also underwent major flooding as a result of similar conditions. Ice and debris contributed to the flooding where they became jammed at culverts, bridges, and natural constrictions within stream channels. The most destructive flooding was along Schoharie Creek and the East and West Branches of the Delaware River in southeastern New York. Record peak discharges occurred at 57 U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) streamflow-gaging stations throughout New York. Peak discharges at 15 sites had recurrence intervals equal to or greater than 100 years. Most sites at which these peak discharges occurred were within the Schoharie Creek and Delaware River basins. Reservoirs throughout New York, particularly those within the Catskill Mountain region, stored large amounts of floodwater, and, thus, sharply reduced peak discharges downstream.

    Photo as included in USGS Water Resources Investigations Report 97-4252

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  • June 2006

    On Tuesday, June 27, a frontal boundary stalled across the region. The boundary extended from southern Quebec across central New York and to Florida. A weak disturbance of tropical origin moved through southeast New York on the morning of June 28, yielding additional tropical moisture. A strong low level jet developed which transported tropical moisture into central and eastern New York. This low resulted in 3 days (June 26-28) of warm rain over the western Mohawk, Susquehanna and Delaware river basins. Estimated rainfall amounts are mapped below, but generally ranged from 2 to 6 inches, with amounts between 11 and 13 inches reported in the high peaks of the Catskills.

    Record flooding occurred on the western Mohawk at East Canada Creek, the Canajoharie Creek, and on the Mohawk River at Little Falls. The NYS Thruway, main rail line and many towns along the Mohawk River were under water and numerous mudslides were reported. Devastating flash, and river flooding also struck the Susquehanna and Delaware basins with many gauge locations breaking their previous record high stages and flows. Thirteen counties were declared disaster areas, and two Interstate 88 bridges were destroyed near Sidney, NY.

    From USGS Open File Report 2009-1063:

    The storm and flooding claimed four lives in New York, destroyed or damaged thousands of homes and businesses, and closed hundreds of roads and highways. Thousands of people evacuated their homes as floodwaters reached new record elevations at many locations within the three basins.... Disaster-recovery assistance for individuals and businesses adversely affected by the floods of June 2006 reached more than $227 million.

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Flood Hazard Information
  • Flash Flooding

    Flash flooding is a rapid and extreme flow of high water into a normally dry area, or a rapid water level rise in a stream or creek above a predetermined flood level, beginning within six hours of the causative event (i.e., intense rainfall, dam failure, ice jam). More information...

  • River Flooding

    River flooding occurs when river levels rise and overflow their banks or the edges of their main channel and inundate areas that are normally dry. More information...
  • Tropical Systems and Coastal Flooding

    At any time of year, a storm from over the ocean can bring heavy precipitation to the U.S. coasts. Whether such a storm is tropical or not, prolonged periods of heavy precipitation can cause flooding in coastal areas, as well as further inland as the storm moves on shore. More information......

  • Ice/Debris Jams

    A back-up of water into surrounding areas can occur when a river or stream is blocked by a build-up of ice or other debris. Debris Jam: A back-up of water into surrounding areas can occur when a river or stream is blocked by a build-up of debris. More information...
  • Snowmelt

    Flooding due to snowmelt most often occurs in the spring when rapidly warming temperatures quickly melt the snow. The water runs off the already saturated ground into nearby streams and rivers, causing them to rapidly rise and, in some cases, overflow their banks.More information...
  • Dam Breaks/Levee Failure

    A break or failure can occur with little to no warning. Most often they are caused by water overtopping the structure, excessive seepage through the surrounding ground, or a structural failure. More information...
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