Public Information Statement
Issued by NWS Buffalo, NY

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NOUS41 KBUF 021210

Public Information Statement
National Weather Service Buffalo NY
800 AM EDT THU NOV 02 2017


The National Weather Service and The New York State Office of
Emergency Management is promoting winter safety to all New Yorkers
during Winter Weather Awareness week October 29 through November 4.

Although it may seem odd to the casual observer, flooding is
actually a common hazard in New York during the winter months. There
are periods of thaw which can produce enough snowmelt to saturate
the ground and increase the river flows. If that is combined with a
significant rainfall, then flooding can occur. That is what happened
in January, 1996 over much of Western New York. A rapid snowmelt on
January 17 reduced a 2 foot snowpack to bare ground and released
more than 3 inches of water. That combined with a 1 to 2 inch
rainfall to produce major flooding along the Allegheny and Upper
Genesee rivers.

Significant flooding also occurred in Western New York in January,
1998. While the North Country was suffering from a major ice storm,
major flooding occurred along the Allegheny and Genesee rivers. In
addition to the ice storm, record flooding occurred along the Black
River at Watertown.

Another winter flood hazard is caused by ice jams in rivers and
streams. Often during the winter, ice will form on a river or
stream. The ice can become several inches thick during a prolonged
cold spell. If the river flow were to suddenly increase due to
snowmelt or heavy rain, the ice can break up into large slabs and
move downstream until it reaches an obstruction such as a river
bend, island or bridge. The resulting ice jam acts much like a dam
blocking the flow of water and causing flooding upstream. In some
cases the jam can suddenly break and release a surge of water and
ice downstream.

While ice jams tend to form near the same locations every year, it
is nearly impossible to predict exactly when they will form or when
they will break. People need to remain alert for sudden changes in
water levels.

Your National Weather Service and local emergency management
officials work in partnership to monitor the formation of ice jams
and assess the potential for flooding. Flood watches are issued when
the flood potential increases, and they are upgraded to flood or
flash flood warnings when flooding is imminent or occurring.

If you live or travel near a river or stream you must remain alert
for the possibility of flooding during the winter months and heed
the advice of emergency management officials.

You can find more information about winter weather safety on our
website at


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