ROCHESTER, N.Y. -- The phrases "New York State" and "tropical storms" do not appear in the same news story very often. Two such storms, named Irene and Lee, have changed that as Upstate New York reels from a one - two punch. The region has received massive rains from first the remnants of Hurricane Irene, and then in less than a week, more heavy rain from the leftovers of Tropical Storm Lee.
While the damage from Irene was widespread in New York City, Long Island, the Mohawk and Hudson River valleys and the Catskills, the rainfall from Lee was more localized. And, in some places even heavier than that from Irene. The Susquehanna River, the two branches of the Delaware River and the streams that feed both received the bulk of the rainfall from the second storm.
The Susquehanna River runs south to the New York / Pennsylvania border from the Catskill Mountains. It then runs along the border to the west before turning south into Pennsylvania.
At Unadilla, near the headwaters of the Susquehanna, the river crested at 16.34 feet on Thursday night. That is five feet above flood stage. It is not expected to fall below flood stage until Sunday.
The river crested at a record 25.71 feet at 4 pm on Thursday at the gauge in Binghamton. At noon Friday the Susquehanna remains seven feet above flood stage though down four feet from the crest. The city recorded 7.5 inches of rain on September 7 and an additional 1.5 inches on September 8. That nine inches of rain fell on top of the 3.7 inches of rain that Binghamton received from Hurricane Irene August 27-29.
At Vestal, a short distance downstream, another flood crest record was set. Just after noon on Thursday, the Susquehanna River flood crest reached 35.26 feet, over eighteen inches higher than the previous record. The river in Vestal is not expected to fall below flood level until very early September 12.
The Owego river gauge ceased reporting at 6 am on Thursday. At that time the river was six feet higher than the previous record, at 37.98 feet.
The Susquehanna River leaves New York near the community of Waverly. The Waverly river gauge is just across the border in Pennsylvania. At noon Friday, the river remains two feet higher than the previous record and is not predicted to fall below flood levels in the next several days. The new flood crest record was set at 10:30 am on September 8, but the river was within inches of this crest for eighteen hours on that Thursday.