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Storms flood roadways with quick, torrential rainfall

Wednesday, May 22, 2013
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Motorists became bogged down in a torrential rain storm at the Interstate 890 underpass on Broadway in Schenectady Wednesday.
Photographer: Peter R. Barber
Motorists became bogged down in a torrential rain storm at the Interstate 890 underpass on Broadway in Schenectady Wednesday.

— Severe thunderstorms swept across the region Wednesday afternoon, causing flash flooding in Schenectady County and wreaking havoc on municipal sewer systems.

The sudden rainfall around 2:30 p.m. dumped roughly an inch of rain in less than an hour, prompting water to back up on roads in some areas. The storms forced the village of Scotia to cancel its 85th annual Memorial Day Parade for the first time in more than a decade.

Mayor Kris Kastberg said rainfall overwhelmed the village’s sewer system and many streets became impassible. Though much of the water had receded by late afternoon, parade organizers scratched the parade out of concern additional storms could strike.

“It’s never been canceled since I’ve been involved in politics,” said Kastberg, who was first elected to office 11 years ago.

Even if the parade hadn’t been canceled, many of the people slated to march were busy tending to weather-related emergencies. Kastberg said some roads in the village were left under more than a foot of water in the immediate aftermath of the storms.

“Our storm sewer just couldn’t take the water,” the mayor said.

The storm system that pushed north over the city and village toward Glenville and Burnt Hills in southern Saratoga County dropped roughly an inch of rain in less than a half-hour, according to the National Weather Service in Albany. Meteorologist Ian Lee said the city of Schenectady also saw a fair degree of flash flooding, which caused road closures and required people to be rescued from cars stalled on flooded streets.

“These storms as they’re moving through are dumping a tremendous amount of rainfall,” he said “The atmosphere is very moist right now, so any thunderstorms developing right now are very efficient rain producers.”

In Schenectady, the violent downpours left many local roads closed during the early afternoon. Broadway near the Schenectady County Department of Social Services offices remained closed throughout the evening as city Department of Public Works crews worked to clear water from the roadway.

In Rotterdam, flash flooding struck Sunrise Boulevard near Town Hall. Town Supervisor Harry Buffardi said the first floor of the building had minor flooding that didn’t appear to cause any significant damage.

Highway Superintendent Jim Longo said the massive amount of water dumped by the storm simply overwhelmed the town’s sewer system. But he said the water quickly dissipated once the heavy rain stopped.

“It was a massive amount of water,” he said. “You can’t put 20 inches of water in 12-inch pipe.”

 
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