ITHACA, New York — We’re still in the midst of a wet and humid July. The National Weather Service Binghamton forecast office has issued a Flash Flood Watch for Tompkins County and all adjacent counties until 2 a.m. Sunday due to additional long-duration moderate to heavy rain.
A storm system moving northeastward through the Ohio River Valley will bring plenty of wet, unstable air and widespread severe thunderstorms, which will come in waves and last for much of Saturday. The first wave of showers and storms is expected to arrive around daybreak, and these storms will move across the county throughout the day, gradually fading towards dusk. Moderate to heavy rain showers will be less widespread overnight Saturday into Sunday morning.
Most of Tompkins County should expect another 1-2 inches of rain, with embedded heavy rain bands of thunderstorms bringing up to 2 inches of rain per hour locally. The greatest risk right now is flash flooding as a result of the excessive rain falling on already saturated soils with little capacity for more precipitation. The stormwater discharge will be faster and more intense than would otherwise be expected. With the soggy soils, certain thunderstorms may bring severe gusts, making trees more vulnerable to toppling.
Flash floods are more dangerous than typical floods because they happen quickly and without warning, frequently within minutes of heavy rain. The heavy rain may be further upstream from the impacted area, so don’t believe there’s no risk just because it’s raining lightly near your residence. Flash floods are far more powerful than typical floods due to their speed, and they frequently turn into raging torrents of water, washing away everything in their path.
The Route 17 corridor between Syracuse and Cortland and parts of the Catskills are anticipated to be the hardest damaged. If you’re traveling and come across a flooded road, don’t try to cross it; instead, take a different route. Even shallow water can cause damage to and/or disable your car, and floodwaters rise quickly. A vehicle can be washed off the road with just 6 inches of fast-flowing water. Due to the potential of hydroplaning over standing water, allow extra space between other drivers and drive at a slower speed when going.
Flooding will be especially dangerous in low-lying urban areas and places with poor drainage (Fall Creek, West End, Southwest Ithaca, valley areas) and residences and businesses along creeks and streams. If a flash flood warning is issued for your area, keep an eye on the television or carry your phone, and be ready to flee to higher ground if required.
Watch for flash flood warnings and other information from the National Weather Service’s Binghamton forecast office tomorrow morning.