PLATTSBURGH — Saturday’s warming weather brought iced roadways and flooding concerns to the North Country.
The National Weather Service on Saturday issued a Flood Watch for all of Vermont and much of Northern New York, including Clinton, Franklin and Essex counties. With as much as an inch of rain forecast for parts of Essex County, emergency officials were on alert, keeping an eye on area rivers.
However, as of Saturday afternoon no flooding had been reported. Essex County Emergency Services Director Don Jaquish said an ice jam in the East Branch of the AuSable River in Jay was being monitored but hadn’t caused any problems yet. Still, he was cautious.
“You can’t predict what the ice jam will do,” he said.
According to the Weather Service, as the rain accumulates overnight, local street flooding is possible because of ice- and snow-covered drains. Service meteorologists also warned that ice jams can occur suddenly, with broken jams quickly releasing water, flooding areas downstream. The Flood Watch continues through Sunday evening.
In Malone, Franklin County Communications Supervisor Jaime Gratton said he hopes that the Salmon River stays in its banks.
“It’s all going to depend on if the ice moves and if it stays warm,” he said.
Clinton County reported no flooding Saturday.
Earlier Saturday the problem was ice, not water.
Interstate 87 between exits 34 and 39 was closed for more than two hours following numerous accidents as vehicles skidded on morning ice.
Near Exit 36, a tractor-trailer accident had closed both northbound lanes, Clinton County Emergency Services Director Eric Day said at about 9:20 a.m.
The North Country had warmed to above-freezing temperatures through Friday evening and overnight, but ice still formed.
The roadway skating rink materialized at about 6 a.m., Day said.
“We got a pretty good flash of rain,” he said, and when it hit the cold road surfaces, it froze.
Despite the warmer weather, Jaquish said, “the roads are still cold.”
“They were subject to sub-zero temperatures, so they are going to take awhile to warm up.”
SLIPPERY ESSEX COUNTY
In Essex County, many vehicles slid off treacherously slick roadways, Jaquish said.
That included a plow truck, he said.
Some City of Plattsburgh streets were shut down for a time but had reopened, City Police said at about 8:25 a.m.
“They had some problems with people trying to drive up Broad (Street), Cornelia (Street)” and other roads that mount hills, Day said.
Essex County Dispatch noted crashes in Ticonderoga and Port Henry, among numerous other communities.
Neither Day nor Jaquish knew of any injuries.
Franklin County roads seem unaffected.
Day notified the public about the dangerous conditions via the county’s Facebook page, and he knows people were paying attention.
“It has 800-900 hits already,” he said.
The county has about 1,800 friends who visit the site.
By midday, warming temperatures helped road workers get the ice under control.
“The highway crews are out putting down sand and salt,” day said. “The temperatures are warm enough that the salt they’re putting down is working.”
All closed roads were open by noon.