BOSTON – Another weather warning is in effect for the next few days due to the potential for significant, catastrophic flooding in parts of the region. For some locations in northern and western New England, this could be a very severe flooding event2,400 roads, 800 homes and businesses, 300 bridges (including historic covered bridges) and half a dozen railroads were damaged or destroyed.
Let’s set the stage. By most accounts, June is the wettest month in central and northern New England. Several days are filled with heavy rain — one city may get inches of rain while the next town gets none. However, most communities in Massachusetts received average or above-average rainfall in June.
Enter July, where the flooding continues. Cities in Middlesex and Worcester counties have received 4 to 8 inches of rain over the past two weeks. To say the land is full and the rivers overflowing would be an understatement.
Now, a slower-moving system with higher precipitation rates is moving through central and northern New England. The atmosphere is primed with humidity, with high dew points and abundant rainfall. There is plenty of fuel for thunderstorms, but without a real steering current, the storms will be nearly stationary and will be enhanced by the Green, White, and Berkshire Mountains, while southerly and southeasterly winds will drive more moisture. Storms.
That could lead to torrential, catastrophic rainfall totals that the National Weather Service’s Burlington, Vermont office called “very rare for historical rainfall.”
The National Weather Service issued a historic “high risk” of heavy rainfall Monday for Vermont’s Champlain Valley. This is the first time the WPC has raised the level of concern. In this forecast discussion, the WPC stated that “widespread flooding is expected to be similar to the 2011 Irene remnant event for this region.”
Why is this a big deal?
The Weather Forecast Center’s “high risk” days only provide 14 days per year, but account for 80% of all flood-related damage and 40% of all flood-related deaths. Even “moderate risk,” which includes central and western Massachusetts, accounted for 17% of flood-related deaths.
Ahead of the expected destruction, the Charlotte, North Carolina Fire Department has already dispatched resources to New England.
What steps can you take to protect yourself and your family?
First, make sure your mobile alerts are turned on. Normal flash flood warnings are not normally sent out, and are usually reserved for high-level flash flood warnings or emergencies.
On your phone, go to systems > Privacy & Security > Location service > WeatherThen tap Always. To get more accurate notifications for your current location, turn on Accurate Location.
If you live in a particularly vulnerable area, such as a hillside or near a river, or in a basement apartment, make sure you have an evacuation plan.
Finally, turn, don’t sink. More than 50% of flash flood deaths occur when vehicles are driven into hazardous flood waters. Only 1 to 2 feet of water is needed to move a car.
Heavy rain throughout Monday. Central Mass. will see more rain, and the north may avoid any catastrophic flooding.
Rain on Tuesday afternoon and Wednesday will be hot, muggy and humid — giving Boston its first 90° reading of the season. It will rain again at the end of the week. Then the water level of the river is expected to decrease.