City of Ithaca ready and watching for signs of flooding, say officials

March 13, 2015 by Mark H. Anbinder

Flood Awareness Week is the week of March 15th, but Ithaca residents need no reminder. Last January and March, ice jams and warm weather creating a rapid snow melt resulted in flooding for some low-lying areas of town.

Ice jams in Cascadilla Creek last winter. Photo courtesy of City of Ithaca.Ice jams in Cascadilla Creek last winter. Photo courtesy of City of Ithaca.The City of Ithaca is ready, according to city clerk Julie Holcomb. "The City is monitoring the weather conditions and the creeks very closely," she says. "We are making preparations to mitigate flooding by checking on the York Street and Woodlawn Place pumps and cleaning catch basins."

Last winter, heavy equipment had to be used to break up large chunks of ice that were backing up water in the creeks that run across Ithaca's Fall Creek and north side neighborhoods. "We are prepping some of the equipment used last year in case it needs to be deployed," Holcomb says.

This week's sunny weather, significantly warmer than it has been, is melting lots of the snow and ice that accumulated over a span of several weeks that only saw brief stretches above freezing. "The ice is beginning to thin, so we are encouraging everyone to stay off of it, and also advising them to stay away from the gorge trails due to dangerous ice conditions," Holcomb adds.

Ithaca Police Department police chief John Barber issued a recent statement reminding Ithaca residents and visitors to be cautious in area parks and waterways. "Please follow posted signs, and do not veer away from a designated path," Barber's statement says. "Ice that appears to be thick and safe can in fact be dangerously thin. Please keep clear of any body of water until the ice is completely melted throughout the area."

A message to the Cornell University communty from CUPD police chief Kathy Zoner adds a reminder that, "When temperatures start to rise, icicles start to drop." Be aware when entering and exiting buildings of the potential for falling snow and ice from the roof, windowsills, or other ledges.

The National Weather Service in Binghamton says Central New York has "above average risk for spring flooding" this year, due to a higher-than-usual snowpack and "significant ice on our rivers." New York Flood Awareness Week is March 15th-21st, according to the NWS.

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