Major Storm, Heavy Rain, Severe T'Storms, Flooding, Regional Ice, High Wind
Friday Afternoon through Sunday Morning March 7-9


This was the second major storm of the week coming in with torrential rain, two periods of freezing rain in select areas, isolated severe t-storms, flooding, and a period of high winds. The basin wide storm total rainfall of 1.5"-3", on top of the 2"-3" of rain that fell just a day and a half before, resulted in widespread urban poor drainage flooding, as well as minor to moderate flooding of many major streams, creeks, and rivers, such as the Esopus, the Housatonic, and the Hudson as well as flash flooding in Delaware, Greene, Ulster, Dutchess, Columbia, and Berkshire and Litchfield counties in western New England.

The impacts of the wintry side of the system were limited to the north country through much of the storm's duration with a brief period of snow Friday evening in Hamilton County along with pockets of freezing rain. The bigger wintry hit occurred on Saturday in the Adirondacks where a prolonged ice storm occurred resulting in heavy ice accumulations in Hamilton and Warren counties with widespread power outages reported and a state of emergency declared in the town of Hague (Warren County) at 9:30pm on Saturday due to icing and downed trees. Light icing briefly developed in areas as far south as the Capital Region Saturday afternoon with light to moderate icing into the higher elevations of Schoharie and Schenectady counties.

Isolated severe t-storms Saturday evening produced damaging winds in Berkshire County which blew down trees and power lines in Cheshire, Stockbridge, and Sheffield between 8:07 and 8:12pm. Scattered hail producing t'storm also rolled through the Schoharie and Mohawk valleys between 8pm and 9:30pm. The final blow from the storm came as the system pulled out of the region producing a period of high winds late Saturday night through Sunday morning with frequent gusts ranging from 40-50 mph.

Set Up/Sequence of Events
Friday March 7

Much of the morning and the early afternoon featured pleasant and dry weather conditions with sunshine and temperatures ranging from the mid 40s to the lower 50s. Clouds rapidly moved into the region during the afternoon with light rain into the Catskills by 3:30 pm and by 4:30 pm in the Capital Region. This rainfall was along the leading edge of a significant slug of moisture that was riding up the spine of the Appalachians, running well in advance of and displaced well north and east of the main upper air and surface storm, which at this time was located over Arkansas where it was producing snow. Simultaneous with the arrival of the light rain came the passage of a cold front through eastern New York and western New England which introduced a colder and drier air mass. This air was cooled further by evaporative processes as the rain, which quickly expanded in coverage and intensity through the evening, fell into the dry layer. Temperatures dropped into the 30s during the evening with enough cooling in Hamilton County to cause the rain to switch to snow by 5:30pm and for pockets of freezing rain to develop elsewhere across the north country. Warming, however, was rapid, allowing the snow and patchy freezing rain to change back to rain by 9:30pm with the bulk of the first installment of moisture moving out of the region during the pre-dawn hours on Saturday, March 8. Snowfall totals in Hamilton County ranged from 1/4" to as much as 3" in the higher elevations (3" @ Indian Lake, 1.5" @ Speculator and Wells, 1" @ Northville, 1/4" @ Arietta) with rainfall amounts generally averaging 1/3"-3/4" by midnight.

Saturday March 8: Torrential Rain/North Country Ice Storm/Isolated Severe T'Storms
With the departure of the first batch of moisture during the pre-dawn hours on Saturday the region was left in a brief lull with patchy very light rain, drizzle, and fog, which lasted through the early to mid morning on the 8th. The main storm moved from its Friday evening position over Arkansas to West Virginia by the early to mid afternoon, tapping into another large moisture area which had formed over Florida. The approach of the low and an associated powerful 140 knot jet stream at an unusually low altitude of 20,000 feet, caused heavy rain to break out over New York and New England by the late morning. The storm strengthened on its approach which induced a northerly low level cold air drainage flow over eastern New York and western New England causing temperatures to slowly drop through the 30s as the rain fell, with sub-freezing air filtering through the Adirondacks, Vermont, into the northern reaches of the Catskills and the Capital Region. With the storm pulling in huge amounts of both gulf and Atlantic moisture heavy rain fell, with heavy freezing rain in Hamilton and Warren counties and patchy freezing rain into the northern Catskills and Capital Region as well. Heavy icing occurred in the Adirondacks with more of a light glaze where freezing rain occurred further south.

By the early evening the storm center tracked to a position near Wilkes-Barre/Scranton, PA with the circulation forcing the system's warm front up into the mid Hudson valley and Berkshire County and a subsequent brief jump in temperatures into the lower 50s. The combination of the warmer and more unstable air interacting with the powerful storm caused a line of locally severe thunderstorms to develop in Columbia and Dutchess counties between 7:30pm and 8:00pm which went on to produce wind damage in Berkshire and Litchfield counties as they raced to the east-northeast at 50 mph. Other thunderstorms in Schoharie, Montgomery, Fulton, Schenectady, and Saratoga counties between 8pm and 9:30 pm produced localized torrential rain and small hail.

Click Here for Hail and Ice Pictures

Image #1: ENX (Albany National Weather Service Doppler radar) base reflectivity image at 7:45pm, Saturday March 8, 2008 of the line of t'storms over Columbia and Dutchess counties, heading east into Berkshire and Litchfield counties in western New England

T'Storm line at 7:45pm March 8, 2008 

Sunday, March 9: High Winds
Heavy rain moved out of the region between 9pm and 11pm on the 8th as the storm rapidly raced to the northeast just west of the Hudson and Champlain valleys with it clearing the region during the predawn hours on Sunday the 9th. A tight pressure gradient behind the departing powerful storm and high pressure building into the Ohio valley caused a period of strong winds to develop over eastern New York and western New England during the pre-dawn hours on the 9th with frequent gusts ranging from 40-50 mph. The peak gust of 52 mph at Albany occurred at 1:56 am, 50 mph @ North Adams, MA at 5:18am, and 47 mph @ Pittsfield, MA at 3:54am on the 9th with gusts only dropping to between 35 and 40 mph through the day on Sunday. The combination of the high winds and ice laden trees in Hamilton and Warren counties caused more power outages to occur through Sunday leaving many without lights and heat into the day on Monday March 10.

Flooding:
The combined effects of the excessive rains from the first storm with the rain that fell with this storm lead to widespread urban and poor drainage flooding, as well as stream, creek, and major river flooding that ranged from minor to moderate, to flash flooding in the Catskills, mid Hudson valley, and Berkshire and Litchfield counties. Numerous road closures resulted with extensive basement flooding reported as well.

A listing of the flooding reports used by the National Weather Service to verify the flood warnings that were issued is listed in Table #1. This list does not represent the total number of flooding incidents that occurred during the storm, but is rather a representation of the flood event.

Table #1: Flooding Reports, March 8, 2008

Town

County Time of Flood Flooding Report

Ulsterville

Ulster 1:30pm Route 213 and Mountain Road closed due to flooding
Coxsackie Greene 2:12pm Several road closures throughout Coxsackie due to flooding
New Paltz Ulster 2:19pm Several roads closed in downtown New Paltz due to flooding

Coxsackie

Greene 2:19pm Mansion Street closed due to 3' of water on roadway
Red Hook Dutchess 2:30pm Route 199 closed due to flooding
Pawling Dutchess 2:30pm Route 292 closed due to flooding
Millerton Dutchess 2:30pm Route 22 closed due to flooding
Ancramdale Columbia 2:30pm State Route 82 closed due to flooding
Canaan Columbia 2:30pm State Route 295 closed due to flooding
Hillsdale Columbia 2:30pm Routes 22 and 23 closed due to flooding
Saugerties Ulster 3:00pm Route 9w closed between Saugerties and town of Ulster
Catskill Greene 3:20pm North Mountain Turnpike closed due to flooding
Sheffield, MA Berkshire 4:00pm Main road flooded
Hancock, CT Litchfield 4:00pm Main road flooded
Egremont Plain, MA Berkshire 4:00pm Many secondary roads flooded
Richmond, MA Berkshire 4:00pm Many secondary roads flooded
Hurley Ulster 4:00pm Hurley Mountain road closed due to mudslide
Catskill Greene 4:00pm Routes 30 and 47 closed due to flooding
Ulsterville Ulster 6:35pm Ulsterville Road and Pirog Road under water, water approaching houses west of County Route 7 and State Route 52 with flooded fields
Great Barrington, MA Berkshire 6:45pm Flooding along the Green River

WeatherNet 6 and National Weather Service Spotter Storm Total Rainfall Reports for the March 7-9, 2008 Storm

Town

County Rainfall Report Town County Rainfall Report

Savoy, MA (2400")

Berkshire 2.24" Lanesborough, MA Berkshire 1.90"
Alford, MA Berkshire 1.95" Pittsfield, MA Berkshire 2.06"
North Adams, MA Berkshire 1.56"      

Sharon, CT

Litchfield 1.84"      
Albany Airport Albany 1.34" Albany Downtown Albany 1.38"
Colonie Albany 1.23" Watervliet Albany 1.69"
Livingston Columbia 2.75" Chatham Center Albany 2.50"
Kinderhook Columbia 2.45" Ancramdale Columbia 2.09"
Valatie Columbia 1.65"      
Clinton Corners Dutchess 2.80" Millbrook Dutchess 2.62"
Rhinebeck Dutchess 2.55" Red Hook Dutchess 2.30"
Poughkeepsie Dutchess 2.03"      
Margaretville Delaware 1.26"-1.35"      
Broadalbin Fulton 2.15"      
Round Top Greene 2.50" Catskill Greene 2.24"-2.46"
Windham Greene 1.77" Cairo Greene 1.60"
Wells Hamilton 2.00"-2.80" Indian Lake Hamilton 2.08"
Piseco Hamilton 1.41"      
Glen Montgomery 1.90" Fonda Montgomery 2.11"
Amsterdam Montgomery 1.68" Hessville Montgomery 1.85"
East Worcester Otsego 0.61"      
North Petersburg Rensselaer 2.18" Stephentown Rensselaer 2.00"
Brunswick Rensselaer 1.99" Eagle Mills Rensselaer 1.84"
Troy Rensselaer 1.65" Buskirk Rensselaer 1.68"
Center Brunswick Rensselaer 1.49"      
Charlton Saratoga 1.40" Saratoga Springs Saratoga 1.55"
Malta Saratoga 1.25" Clifton Park Saratoga 1.32"
Round Lake Saratoga 1.35"      
Schenectady Schenectady 1.68" Duanesburg Schenectady 1.52"
Scotia Schenectady 1.40" Niskayuna Schenectady 1.23"
Richmondville Schoharie 1.28" Gilboa Schoharie 1.70"
Jefferson Schoharie 1.50" Charlotteville Schoharie 1.40"
West Shokan Ulster 2.56" Esopus Ulster

2.25"

Kingston Ulster 2.60" Whiteport Ulster 2.02"
Phoenicia Ulster 3.02"      
Brant Lake Warren 1.79" Glens Falls Warren 1.75"
Bolton Landing Warren 1.68"      
Fort Edward Washington 1.45" Cossayuna Washington 1.45"
Whitehall Washington 1.82" Cambridge Washington 1.72"
Landgrove, VT Bennington 2.55" Woodford, VT Bennington 1.89"
Bennington, VT Bennington 1.63"