Publication Date November 11, 2019

Local floods reflect rise in extreme rainfall, experts say

United States

 Just two days before Halloween, Utica Mayor Robert Palmieri was at the scene of a creek cleanup in North Utica.

While an excavator worked to clear the creek bed, Palmieri discussed the city’s efforts to mitigate flooding by clearing debris and working with private entities such as Riverside Center. He also mentioned another culprit for recent flooding events.

“I know no one wants to talk about climate change,” Palmieri said. ” ... But the rainstorms that we’re having at this point, where we used to get them once every maybe five years, we’re getting them once every two years, sometimes twice a year.”

Two days after his visit, hard rains and buffeting winds in the Mohawk Valley caused widespread flooding. Homes and businesses were damaged, while creeks overflowed their banks.

The highest recorded rainfalls in Oneida County were in Sauquoit, with 4.2 inches, and Woodgate, 3.5 inches, according to the National Weather Service.

These significant rainfall events with more than 2 inches of precipitation are becoming more common regionally and locally, said climatologist Jessica Spaccio with the Northeast Regional Climate Center at Cornell University.

Data collected by the climate center shows an increase in the frequency of heavy rain events, as well as an increase in the amount of rain during each event.