US Geological Survey

Cover image from WRIR97-4252 (click for enlargement, 60 KB) U.S. GEOLOGICAL SURVEY

Water-Resources Investigations Report 97-4252

Flood of January 19-20, 1996 in New York State

By Richard Lumia

ABSTRACT

Heavy rain during January 18-19, 1996, combined with unseasonably warm temperatures that caused rapid snowmelt, resulted in widespread flooding throughout New York State. Damages to highways, bridges, and private property exceeded $100 million. The storm and flooding claimed 10 lives, stranded hundreds of people, destroyed or damaged thousands of homes and businesses, and closed hundreds of roads. Forty-one counties in New York were declared federal disaster areas. The most severely affected region was within and surrounding the Catskill Mountains. Damages and losses within Delaware County alone exceeded $20 million.

More than 4.5 inches of rain fell on at least 45 inches of melting snow in the Catskill Mountain region during January 18-19 and caused major flooding in the area. The most destructive flooding was along Schoharie Creek and the East and West Branches of the Delaware River. Record peak discharges occurred at 57 U.S. Geological Survey streamflow-gaging stations throughout New York. Maximum discharges at 15 sites, mostly within the Schoharie Creek and Delaware River basins, had recurrence intervals equal to or greater than 100 years. The storage of significant amounts of floodwater in several reservoirs sharply reduced peak discharges downstream. This report presents a summary of peak stages and discharges, precipitation maps, floodflow hydrographs, inflow-outflow hydrographs for several reservoirs, and flood profiles along 83 miles of Schoharie Creek from its headwaters in the Catskill Mountains to its mouth at the Mohawk River.


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