Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Lake rises again in long lasting flood

From the Burlington Free Press:
The causeway between Colchester and South Hero, seen on Tuesday, May 17, 2011, has been heavily damaged by high water from Lake Champlain.  The causeway has been closed by washouts after the bridge on the Cochester side.
The seemingly never-ending Lake Champlain flood worsened Tuesday as runoff from heavy weekend rains swelled the lake once again.
The lake had risen about seven inches since Saturday, reaching just over 102.6 feet by late Tuesday afternoon. Forecasters said the lake would peak near 102.75 feet today.
Vermont Emergency Management spokesman Mark Bosma said there were no reports of new major damage because the latest Lake Champlain crest is still at least six inches below the record high of 103.2 feet set May 6. But property owners with flooded camps and homes will be forced to wait longer for the water to ebb.
Gov. Peter Shumlin urged Vermont homeowners to call 211 if their houses have been damaged by flooding. The calls will help officials determine whether Vermont qualifies for federal disaster aid for individuals who suffered flood damage, he said.
"We need a reliable estimate of individual damages," Shumlin said, noting that data from 211 calls will help establish those estimates.
The Federal Emergency Management Agency has determined there is enough damage to roads and other public property inVermont to receive federal money to repair state and municipal infrastructure damaged in the flooding.
Little rain fell in Vermont Tuesday, so water is expected to begin receding again later this week. The two to four inches of rain that has fallen in recent days will slow the fall in the lake level. The lake typically falls at a rate of an inch or two a day even in sunny, dry weather.
Forecasters said showers are possible each day for the rest of the week. The showers aren't expected to raise the lake after today, said Andy Nash, a meteorologist at the National Weather Service in South Burlington.
This spring has set the mark as the rainiest on record. Since March 1, The National Weather Service has measured 15.75 inches of rain, exceeding the old record of 15.46 inches in 1983. For climatological purposes, spring is regarded as the period from March 1 through May 31.
Chances are good that the lake will continue to recede almost uninterrupted over the next several weeks, Nash said. Storms in late spring and summer can produce torrential thunderstorms that affect a small area, but don't usually deposit heavy rain over the entire Lake Champlain drainage basin. "For the lake to go up, you have to have a substantial amount of rain over the entire area, and thunderstorms don't do that," he said.
True to form, the forecast for the rest of the week calls for scattered showers and thunderstorms almost daily through Monday.
Contact Matt Sutkoski at 660-1846

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