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2007 Public Flood Monitoring Page (Archive)

MONTPELIER FLOOD
EVACUATION ROUTES

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Sandbagging
Techniques
Brochure


 (U.S. Army Corps
of Engineers)

Chronology of Updates:
  • March 26, 2007, 4:15 PM: Update from City Manager - Wrap-Up Message
  • March 25, 2007, 7:12 PM: Update from City Manager - IT'S OVER - NO FLOOD IN 2007!!!
  • March 24, 2007, 3:30 PM: Update from City Manager
  • March 23, 2007, 12:30 PM: Update from City Manager
  • March 23, 2007, 9:00 AM: Planning Director's Note
  • March 22, 2007, 5:30 PM: Update from City Manager
  • March 21, 2007, 1:50 PM: Update from City Manager
  • March 20, 2007, 6:30 PM: Update from City Manager
  • March 19, 2007, 10:45 AM: Update from Planning Director - Communication Tips
  • March 19, 2007, 8:30 AM: Flood Cleanup Link added to links section
  • March 16, 2007, 12:30 PM: Update from City Manager
  • March 15, 2007, 3:30 PM: Update from City Manager
  • March 15, 2007, 12:00 PM: Vermont Emergency Management Noon Update
  • March 15, 2007: New Sandbag Brochure added to site (PDF Document)
  • March 15, 2007, 8:30 AM: Vermont Emergency Management Morning Update
  • March 15, 2007, 5:00 AM: Update from City Manager
  • March 14, 2007: Vermont Emergency Management Daily Update
  • March 14, 2007: National Weather Service Releases Flood Watch for Most of VT
  • March 13, 2007: Vermont Emergency Management Daily Update
  • March 13, 2007: Siren Follow-up
  • March 13, 2007: Siren Testing
  • March 13, 2007: Montpelier Ice Jam Monitoring Workshop (includes PDF of workshop)
  • March 12, 2007: Update from City Manager
  • March 12, 2007: Vermont Emergency Management Daily Update
  • March 12, 2007: Montpelier Emergency Management Update to be aired on ORCA Channel 15 (Quicktime video)
  • March 12, 2007: Additional Flood Monitoring Links from NOAA
  • March 12, 2007: Detailed 1992 Flood Map added to "Flood of 1992" webpage (link to PDF map)
  • March 08, 2007: Message from Mayor Mary Hooper
  • March 07, 2007: Update from Police Chief Doug Hoyt
  • March 07, 2007: Sandbag Brochure added
  • March 06, 2007: Evacuation Route Map added
  • March 06, 2007: Real-Time Monitor Data added
  • March 01, 2007: Flood Alerts Listserv created & added to site
  • February 28, 2007: Flood Preparation Update from City Manager
  • February 09, 2007: Freeze-up Ice Jam Situation Message from City Manager

Update from City Manager:
Wrap Up Message
4:15 P.M., Monday, March 26, 2007


Thank you very much to the many of you who have sent such nice messages this way. I was trying to keep up and reply to all of them but have been overwhelmed with your kind thoughts last night and today. Believe me it means a lot to me personally and to all of us at the City to feel that we've been of some help.

Thank you, too, for all of you who took this matter seriously and took affirmative steps to protect yourselves, your properties, your families, your employees, your inventories. I know this was nerve wracking and inconvenient.

There will be some more formal wrap up later but I wanted to offer some closing comments right now.
  1. A lot of work was done by the community and it was not a waste of time and effort. People may or may not have realized just how close a call we had last week. According to our experts, another six inch rise in the river last Thursday (the 15th) would have most likely caused a real problem. The upstream ice was starting to break up and just a little more river rise would have sent thick, strong ice into a still stable freeze up jam. And following that, if the March 17th snow storm had been rain we'd have had a real problem as well. This threat was very real.
  2. We had bad luck with the weather in January which created the situation but got pretty much a perfect melt out weather scenario the last two weeks (except for the 14th/15th scare). There's no question that different weather would have produced drastically different results.
  3. Its hard to say whether the city's efforts on the river prevented a big jam or flood yesterday but I can say from witnessing it first hand that the dusting helped weaken the ice significantly which allowed the broken up ice pack to plow right through. The open flowing channels created by the sewer effluent and crane then pulled the ice pack directly into the wide open water beyond. It was not out of the question that a jam could have occurred at cemetery curve given the huge volume of ice that had accumulated by then.
  4. The city, Vermont Emergency Management, CRREL and other involved agencies have already scheduled a meeting for next week for debriefing, lessons learned and consideration of what can be done next in terms of risk reduction, mitigation, prevention etc.
  5. We will consider all strategies to reduce risk in future occurrences. I caution though, that the very essence of this problem is water freezing in a cold climate. Add to that a shallow, extremely flat stretch of river with a built up city around it essentially using all of its natural flood plain. We may come up with a lot of good ideas but its safe to say that we will not be able to prevent the river from freezing. Therefore its also important to stay on top of response and protection, not unlike areas prone to hurricanes - many of which blow out to sea through no efforts of their local or state governments - or for that matter major snow storms or ice storms. We have no way of knowing whether the frazil ice freeze up obstruction was a unique bizarre occurrence this winter of a sign of things to come in the future.
  6. Sandbags - the city, with assistance from the department of corrections, will begin picking up sandbags this week - probably by Wednesday. People who want to move sandbags earlier can simply return them to the city hall plaza where you got them and we'll take them from there. People are also welcome to keep the sandbags if they'd like to save them for future use. The green sand bags are designed to last a long time and can be stock piled. The brown/white sand bags are made of a different material and will deteriorate and are not meant for long term use or future stockpiling.
  7. Thank you's. First thank you to all of you for your suggestions, ideas, comments and encouragement. We never lost sight of the fact that any work we were doing was for your behalf. I would like people in Montpelier to realize exactly how many different people and agencies were actively involved in this effort. I thank them all and apologize in advance to any group I inadvertently leave out.
    • Vermont Emergency Management Agency (VEMA)- Director Barbara Farr took the bull by the horns and got all the important state agencies working together on this. Its been a true pleasure to work with her. Public Information Officer Mark Bosma cranked out regular press releases to keep everyone informed. Barb and Mark were on every conference call with us whether it was 4 AM, 10 PM or whenever. Ray Doherty worked his tail off to get our grant application into FEMA on time for more vanes in the river as one strategy to reduce risk.
    • Cold Regions Research and Engineering Laboratory (CRREL) - A division of the Army Corps of Engineers, these people are the leading ice experts in the country. Fortunately for us they are based in Hanover, NH. They made many trips up here, set up our new river gauges, did aerial surveillance and gave us daily advice, usually several time per day. They came up and trained our employees in how to "read" ice and interpret information. We got particular help from Kate White who was on all our conference calls no matter what time of day or day of the week. She even arrived in person yesterday to observe and advise us during the final break up. Andy Tuthill and Chris Williams were also very helpful to us.
    • National Weather Service - since the weather was the key variable, their information was essential. Any planning we did was based on the weather info they gave us. And they were extremely accurate. Greg Hanson and crew were in on every call at all hours of the day and night.
    • The National Guard - under the direction of Colonel Chris Bishop, 20 or so guard members came to Montpelier and efficiently filled and delivered 5.665 sand bags for community use. Many people were here away from their normal place of employment and/or their families working on the city's behalf.
    • US Geological Service (USGS) - installed a new river gauge on Langdon St. Monitored river flows and volumes, also made most if not all conference calls. Special thanks to John Denner.
    • Agency of Natural Resources, River Division - Barry Cahoon and Pat Ross. Provided incredible river knowledge, got permits approved in a day for the sewer effluent and river dusting. Pat was up all night with us on the 14th & 15th taking ice readings and was on most of the phone calls.
    • Montpelier Downtown Community Association - Suzanne Hechmer organized the volunteer sandbagging effort and worked tirelessly to communicate with the downtown merchants about what was going on.
    • State of Vermont - Deputy Administration Secretary Mike Bertrand took this issue to heart. He attended every meeting, made every phone call and kept an open line of communication with the Governor's office and all state agencies.
    • FEMA, the Corps of Engineers and our Congressional Offices also had staff involved on a regular basis.
    • The Montpelier Police, Public Works and Fire departments worked round the clock watching the river, making ideas work. DPW got the dusting operation and the effluent pumping operation running within a week. I need to offer personal thanks to Chief Doug Hoyt, DPW Director Todd Law and Fire Chief Ges Schneider. The four of us have spent a lot of time together at all hours of the day and night watching ice melt.
    • All the city employees really rallied to the cause. Between preparing information, answering questions, making contacts with people and keeping other city business flowing. I thank Planning Director Gwen Hallsmith for coming up with the idea of these Google groups. What a great way to communicate regularly with over 1,000 interested people.
    • Community groups, especially the Red Cross, really stepped up. We also thank our potential shelter providers Vermont College and National Life.
    • We also appreciate the many people who stopped some of us in the street to offer words of encouragement or appreciation. It really means a lot and helps.
    • Finally I'd like to thank my family who have put up with a lot of uncertainty and stress. My poor children have become deputized river and ice watchers despite their claim that it is "boring". My wife has been extremely supportive and understanding, even when she's been getting quizzed by people about whether there will be a flood or not.
As the ice was flowing out under the interstate bridge last evening, my 9 year old daughter jumped onto the roof of my car, threw her arms high into the air and screamed "NO FLOOD, NO FLOOD, NO FLOOD" It kind of summed it up for all of us.


Update from City Manager:
IT'S OVER - NO FLOOD IN 2007!!!
7:12 P.M., Sunday, March 25, 2007


We watched a massive amount of ice break free near the high school and flow on out past the Interstate Bridge. Thanks to great weather which melted out the ice perfectly and a channel opened by the crane and wastewater effluent the ice was able to move right out. It was a most impressive sight once it got rolling.

Many thanks to all of you for hanging in there for over two months. Breathe easier, its all over for this year.

Many thanks, too, to Vermont Emergency Management Agency, Cold Regions Research and Engineering Lab, the Montpelier Police, Public Works and Fire Departments and the many other agencies and individuals who have helped out with this.

I'm way too excited and worn out to type any more right now.


Update from City Manager:
This Situation Should be Over Soon
3:30 P.M., Saturday, March 24, 2007


We expect the flooding situation to resolve itself one way or the other within a day or two, possibly even today.

The warming temperatures continue to melt and weaken the ice in the river. With the exception of a small jam of broken ice near Gallison Hill Road, all the upstream ice is beginning to break up and move down the river. It is located now between the Granite St Bridge and the Main Street Bridge. It is moving slowly since the river level is low. I observed an open channel of water opening up ahead of this ice, stretching out beyond the Hunger Mtn Co-op.

Further downstream, all the ice from the Dog River has completely moved out leaving wide open river. Channels are freely flowing from about DET to the Interstate bridge. There remains some significant ice from the Bailey Ave bridge to about DET. The warm weather and water is weakening it however and we have observed frazil ice floating out from underneath this ice so, presumably, some of the freeze up jam is starting to break down.

We expect the most movement today to occur between 3 and 5 Pm when the air and water are the warmest. We see no sign of rapid river rise which would lead to a fast break up and greater chance of jamming. Some rain and maybe snow are expected tonight but not enough to create a problem.

Everything is going as well as we could hope right now. However until the ice has substantially moved through past the interstate bridge we will have some concerns. Looking at the weather forecast, it seems very likely that the ice could be out by tomorrow or Monday and maybe even tonight. On the other hand, if its going to jam it will most likely be today or tomorrow.

I know this has been a long process for everyone. Please hang in there and keep watching and listening. Something is going to happen to end this within a day or two. Right now things look good and like they are going our way. But as long as there is substantial ice in the river we need to keep our guard up.

City of Montpelier, Vermont Emergency Management, Corps of Engineers and other officials are remaining in close contact all weekend long and are performing regular river checks and updates,

Thanks everyone for your patience and diligence.



Update from City Manager:
Things Look Good Today
12:30 P.M., Friday, March 23, 2007

As of noon time, things look good.

The ice on the river continues to melt and weaken. The jam near the Dog River has moved out and there is just open flowing water there now. The "leads" of open water continue to lengthen and widen.

There is still a lot of ice from the Main St bridge up to the Stevens Branch that needs to flow out. We don't have depth measurements on it this week but it appears to be weakening substantially.

The river is rising at a slow and expected pace due to the melt and run off. We expect a peak in mid-afternoon when the release from the GMP Hydro dam in Marshfield comes through. If all does well, that rise will break up this weakened ice and flow it out of here. Of course it is still possible that it could break up and jam but that scenario is looking less likely.

I'm not ready to declare this over yet but I will say that all indicators are very positive right now. Keep your eye on things from about 3 to 5 this afternoon, that could potentially give us a really good idea of which way things are heading.



Planning Director's Note:
Contractors for Flood Recovery
9:00 A.M., Friday, March 23, 2007

In our efforts to help citizens of Montpelier in every way possible in the event of a flood, we have been compiling a list of people who can be called in the event of a flood to help with the clean up.

Note that the provision of these names does not constitute an endorsement by the City of their services.

Barre Septic Service
Marshfield
Barre, VT 05641
802-476-7980

Brian Reger
1490 Old Post Rd.
Bradford,VT 05033
802-299-8256 cell(in Montpelier and messages)
802-439-3050 home
I’m a handyman with a pump for hire. I’m available for flood preparation and cleanup.

Green Mountain Pump Service
132 Emery Rd
Washington, VT 05675
802-476-4361

Hutch Crane & Pump Rental Corp
Montpelier, VT 05602
802-223-0712 Ross Environmental Associates, Inc.
Jeffrey A. Simone, Sr. Scientist
VT Class III Water Operator #2882
P.O. Box 1533
Stowe, VT 05672
p. (802) 253-4280
f. (802) 253-4258
We will be able to respond to hazardous materials clean-up in the event of a flood. We are a VT Approved Environmental Consulting Company and have a contract with the State of Vermont, Department of Environmental Conservation.

Roto-Rooter Sewer-Drain Service
Montpelier, VT 05602
802-229-5707

St Cyr William Plumbing & Heating
132 Main St
Montpelier, VT 05602
802-223-1440



Update from City Manager
Conditions Look Favorable Today
5:30 P.M., Thursday, March 22, 2007

Weather conditions seem to be in our favor. The recent warm weather appears to be weakening the ice and raising the temperature of the water in the river. It has not, however, resulted in a rise in river level which is excellent news. A breeze added to the warmth has caused a lot of snow to evaporate rather than melt and run off into the watershed.

Weather forecasts indicate that we will see 5 to 7 days of warm weather with very little precipitation. We couldn't ask for a better scenario. This should lead to a slow melt of the river ice from both the warmer air and the warmer river water. If it stays gradual we will not see a rush of current and accompanying rapid ice break up. Hopefully by the time the ice does break up it will be sufficiently smaller and weaker so as not to cause any major problems.

We're seeing more leads of open water in the river and some settling down in the jam areas. The crane is still working, the sewer effluent is still running. If the forecast holds we could be in very good shape. As predicted from the beginning, our best strategy is to have cooperative weather. That hasn't changed.

I'll note, though, that the current forecast calls for slight rain around Monday or Tuesday of next week. If that changes to heavy rain we could still have problems. Hang tight, we should have a really good sense of how this will all come out by next week.

The following is the press briefing issued by the Vermont Emergency Management Agency today:

The latest forecast from the National Weather Service suggests a warming trend for the next seven days with only traces of rain for Montpelier and most areas of Vermont. This is good news in flood prone areas as ice melt and runoff should happen gradually and not raise rivers to flood stage in the foreseeable future.

This is not a guarantee that flooding will be minimized, however.

Weather patterns often change in Vermont and can sometimes change quickly, and could still lead to flooding around the state. Residents in flood plains of Montpelier and other parts of the state are encouraged to be aware of water levels in rivers and streams, to take note of rising waters and to tune into radio and TV broadcasts for weather and flood updates.


...back to top
Update from City Manager
Frequently Asked Questions
1:50 P.M., Wednesday, March 21, 2007

We are getting many questions about this potential situation. I will address some of the more frequently asked questions and comments.

1. Why doesn't the city just break open or blast open the jam?

The use of the term "jam" may have created unintentional confusion. What presently exists is a mile long restriction of the river channel from about the Middlesex line to the confluence of the North Branch river. In this area, the river is frozen solid from top to bottom on both sides leaving only a very narrow channel for water to flow through. While this is technically called freeze up jam, it is not a jam with a single point of blockage. Therefore there is no one place to break open.

The depth and thickness of the ice for such a long stretch precludes traditional jam breaking techniques. Blasting is useless, particularly with the "frazil" ice that his causing the obstruction. When rock or ledge is blasted one is left with smaller pieces of rock. When ice is blasted one is left with smaller pieces of ice which then freeze together to become a large piece of ice again. Removal of the blasted ice is a problem and with sheet ice still existing downstream there is no place for these ice fragments to go. The amount of dynamite necessary to remove the obstruction would create serious damage throughout downtown. The experts we are working with discourage blasting unless it can be targeted in one limited location without anything around it that could be harmed.

The best strategy available is to use warming techniques. Water from hydrants and the wastewater treatment plant is warmer than the river water and has been effectively melting ice in the areas where it is being introduced. Unfortunately it can't cover the full length of the frozen restriction. Surface dusting has also been effective. Placing dark material on the side of the river which gets the southern sun exposure is using the heat from solar gain to slowly melt and weaken the ice below it.

2. Why doesn't the city just dredge out the islands near the Bailey Avenue Bridge?

Those islands are not causing the current ice formation and problem. This situation was caused by rapid cooling of the water which created slushy "frazil" ice which adhered to the bottom of the river and built up very quickly. As mentioned earlier, the channel restriction is nearly a mile long, not simply concentrated near those "islands".

Those islands have been created by the distribution of sediment in the river. It's widely believed that this situation was exacerbated when the new Bailey Avenue bridge was built. At that time, the channel was widened and a new bridge pier placed in the middle of the water. This permanently altered water and sediment flow. Dredging is a short term effort which will result in the islands reforming.

Since approximately 2000, the city, along with the Agency of Natural Resources, have been pursuing installation of permanent "vane" structures to be placed in the bottom of the river. These vanes will re-direct the flow of water in the river channel. This will stabilize the river banks, erode the islands and re-deposit sediment so that the islands don't' re-form. Some of these vanes were installed a couple of years ago on a test basis and have been working well. The city presently has an active grant application at FEMA for funding for installation of more of these vanes.

3. Why didn't the city break up this jam as it was developing so that it didn't turn into such a threat?

According to data provided by the National Weather Service, the average daily temperature from January 1 through January 15 of this year was 32.4 degrees Fahrenheit with average highs of 41 and lows of 23 including a 65 degree day and two days in the 50's. In mid-January there was a free flowing open river with no ice whatsoever in it. Beginning January 16th through the 31st, the average daily temperature was 7.3 degrees Fahrenheit with average highs of 17 and lows of -3.

On January 15th, the average temperature was 25 degrees, two days later (the 17th) it was -2. It hit 24 on the 19th and did not exceed 15 for the rest of the month. The first report of ice jamming was on January 20th. A freeze up situation like this has never occurred before on this river and there was no reason to suspect it nor were there observable icing conditions that indicated anything other than the normal January freeze over. City officials had no way of knowing that this rapid cooling was creating sub surface ice build up.

4. Why doesn't the city put heavy equipment in the river to take out the ice?

Even though the river levels are relatively low with regard to flooding, the water is still over six feet deep with flowing current much higher than in the summer time. This creates dangerous operating conditions for a backhoe or excavator. In addition, the access points to the river are limited and steep. We would not want to have a piece of heavy equipment turned on its side in the river. We have considered doing excavation from the side of the river but need both a stable staging area and a piece of equipment with a long enough reach. Overhead power lines, traffic and private property all must be considered. As an alternative, the city has been using the crane to hammer open a flowing channel and, beginning this week, will use a clamshell attachment to the crane to lift ice out of the river.

5. Why hasn't the city done anything since 1992 to prevent a flood?

The freezing that has occurred this year is a direct result of unique weather patterns. There is nothing the city, state or federal government could have done to prevent this ice formation. However, the city undertook an extensive study after the 1992 flood to develop strategies and alternatives. Since that time, ice monitoring on the river has been a very high priority activity by our emergency personnel every winter. Over the years, the city has utilized techniques such as ice cutting or "dusting" (which was done this year) to weaken ice. Every winter and ice formation pattern is slightly different. Therefore such techniques are not always necessary or useful. Since 1992 we have had many winters where ice formed, melted and cleared with no problems. The city has also pre-positioned a crane each winter so that it is ready for rapid deployment. This crane was used in 1996 when a jam formed and almost flooded.

As mentioned earlier, the city and state have designed and installed vanes in the river. The city is currently pursuing additional funding for more vanes. In 1994 the city considered installation of an ice dam. At that time, however, there was significant question as to whether this structure would be sufficiently effective to justify a very, very large cost. We have re-opened consideration of this alternative. Flooding is a constant concern in Montpelier. In perspective, though, there have been 52 documented ice jams on the Winooski river in Montpelier and only one flood (1992) caused by those jams. The freeze up situation this winter is significantly different from any of those prior events.

6. Where should I park to keep my car safe?

Please pay close attention to news announcements and alerts issued by the city. On days like this past weekend when the flood threat is very low, you can park where you normally would. At the end of this week you might seek some higher ground. For overnight parkers, the police department is not actively enforcing the overnight parking ban except when there are actual storm conditions. If you look at the 1992 flood map you might get some idea of city streets which did not flood and where there is legal parking. For daytime parkers, most of the parking lot behind Rite Aid did not flood in 1992 nor did the area now know as Stone Cutters Way. Parking is also available at the DET plot with Shuttle service in and out of downtown. You may also wish to utilize car pooling or use public transportation.

7. How will I evacuate?

Based on experience with large crowds such as during the Independence Day celebration, the Police Department thinks it can clear the downtown area in 30-60 minutes. Given the level of monitoring that is occurring, it is possible that we will have this much lead time. If a flood occurs and you have not evacuated left, do not drive through standing water. If you are leaving you can use some of the routes indicated on published maps.

Please beware, though, that March is mud season in Vermont and that the same warm temperatures and rain which might cause flooding will also wreak havoc with dirt roads. Exercise caution when planning an evacuation route, you may wish to select an longer way home that keeps you on paved roads. Most of the dirt roads in the area are not in Montpelier and therefore the city has no control over their condition. This is extremely important for those who might consider going out Terrace Street onto East Hill Road in Middlesex.

8. How will I get my basement pumped out if there is a flood?

The Emergency Operations Center for the City will be coordinating the organizations and businesses that come to town after the flood with offers of pumps for this situation. There will be a cost for the pumping service, and often the flood insurance does not cover the costs associated with flooded basements.

You can let the City know that you need assistance, and we will be compiling and prioritizing a list of properties that need to be pumped. The first priority will go to places that have public access, followed by private properties with no public access. The City has very limited ability to pump out basements, and the fire department pumps can only be used when we know that we are pumping clear water * if there is any chance of debris or hazardous materials being pumped, we need to have someone do it with an appropriate pumping system.

You can also contract directly with a company that provides this service. We will be publishing a list of these firms to our web site, but this in no way will constitute a recommendation or endorsement of these companies. If your basement is flooded, BEFORE anyone goes down there to start work, please be sure that the power is turned off and that any hazardous or flammable materials are contained, or very serious injuries and damage could result. The best way to help insure your safety and the safety of people who are helping you is to get these types of materials out of your basement now, and to have any fuel tanks checked to make sure they will not leak.

9. Will you need people with boats to help evacuate buildings?

DEFINITELY NOT. Private citizens who try to bring boats or other floating equipment downtown during the flood will be turned away and/or arrested and fined if they don't comply. Canoes, kayaks, jet skis, and small motor boats are no match for the ice and flowing water that might be present. They also put people in danger of coming into contact with hazardous materials (volatile organics, raw sewage) that could cause serious health consequences including cancer, hepatitis, and other communicable diseases. Cold water is also very dangerous; if you capsize hypothermia and death are only a few minutes away, so you could be adding to the needs for emergency response instead of helping. During the 1992 flood, the wakes from boats and heavy vehicles cause the windows to break in the downtown, so in addition to putting yourself at risk, you can increase the overall damage to downtown businesses.

We have state police and other experts with the appropriate boats on call now to help with evacuation needs. Stay away from the flooded area if you are not trained emergency personnel.

10. How will the sandbags be removed, with or without a flood?

The City will be bringing in a work crew from the Department of Corrections to remove the sandbags, either after the flood or the flood danger has passed. If there is no flood, the sandbags will be stockpiled for possible future use.



Update from City Manager
Holding Steady today, Alert for the end of the week
6:30 P.M., Tuesday, March 20, 2007

The cold weather through the weekend will reach its low point overnight. Its expected to potentially reach record lows for this time of year, possibly 10-15 degrees below zero. This has all served to tighten up the ice in the river and stabilize any movement that began last week.

The positive side of this is that river levels have dropped back to where they were before last week's rain and warm weather. This means there is a lot of room for rise in the river. It also means that some of the upstream sheet ice that we were concerned about cracking and breaking up may have frozen back solid.

The not so positive side of this is that the cold weather has also tightened up the frozen obstruction downstream. In essence, we've reset the clock to to where we were at the beginning of last week.

Beginning Wednesday afternoon, we expect to see rising temperatures. On Thursday we expect to see some rain and freezing rain. Right now we are not expecting a large volume of rain so its possible that this new snow pack will absorb a lot of it rather than having it run into the river. From Thursday to Friday we expect the temperature to stay above freezing and the highs could get into the low 50's. This warm air combined with the expected rain will create a situation which calls for heightened awareness.

We will probably see a very similar situation to last week. Weakening ice and rising river flow. Our concern will again be the break up of upstream sheet ice flowing into the freeze up area and creating a blockage.

A piece of good news is that last week we had three days of above freezing temperature and heavier rainfall. We;re looking at one less day and less rain this time. After Friday we go into what should be an ideal weather pattern for the ice - 40's in the day and 20's overnight.

The city has resumed putting the treated sewer outflow into the river and will begin using a clamshell attachment on the crane to attempt to lift some of the ice out of the river.

I hope everyone got some rest and a chance to breathe easier these last few days. Please be assured that we will have all of our systems in place for Wednesday, Thursday, Friday and into the weekend if need be as we watch this weather pattern and its impact on the ice.



Update from Planning Director - Communication Tips
10:45 A.M., Monday, March 19, 2007

Good morning!

Here are a couple of pointers for those of you who want to have as much communication as possible about the potential for flooding:

1. If you have a cell phone that receives text messages, we can add the e-mail address of the texting service to your phone (not the phone number) to this listserv. To get the e-mail address for your phone, contact your cell phone service provider. They typically look like this:

18022221111@utext.com

Once you have the address, send it to us and we'll add it to the listserv. We've heard that it's hard for people to receive the confirmation message and reply if they add it themselves on the web site, and we're happy to do it. That way, if we send a message to EVACUATE, you will receive it on your cell phone. You can also adjust your cell phone settings so that an incoming text message gets a special 'ring' to let you know it's there.

2. Cindy Blakeslee has set up another listserv that residents can use to talk to each other about what is happening. Whereas this Montpelier Alerts listserv is for announcements, not dialogue, the new one will allow all members to post messages. The address of the google group is http://groups.google.com/group/montpelier-flood-residents-communication-group. You can also find it by searching Google Groups for the Montpelier Flood Residents Communication Group. Here is what Cindy has to say about the new list:

"I created the group to facilitate communication between Montpelier residents and others who need help or can offer resources both in the preparation for flooding and in the aftermath. I can think of two examples right off: residents who need help sandbagging in anticipation of flooding, and people who can offer help pumping out basements in the event of flooding. There are other examples such as helping with pets, driving people places, going to the store or getting gas for people, etc. which don't always fall within the purview or capacity of either the City or the Red Cross. For example, I remember during the flood of 1992, I was at the Fire House and I saw a woman bring in a generator which she was willing to loan to anyone who needed it - but at the time there was no way to advertise that it was available. The two-way nature of this group is an important feature - people can talk to each other and pass on information."

Cheers, Gwen.

Gwendolyn Hallsmith, Director
Department of Planning and Community Development



Update from City Manager
12:30 P.M., Friday, March 16, 2007

The best news was that we did not have a flood. The National Weather Service cancelled the flood watch for this area in the wee hours of this morning.

Yesterday, however, was a very tense day. Warming temperatures, rain fall and heavy snow melt lined up perfect conditions for ice break up and jamming. The two indicators we watch most closely ("rate of rise" - how fast the river is rising - and "stage" - the actual river level) were in perfect sync with the statistics from 1992. Fortunately the upstream ice was still thick enough and hard enough that it defied predictions and didn't break up. It was a very dicey situation for a long time.

After the rain stopped and temperatures starting dropping we thought the risk had passed temporarily. However the water level kept rising and two things happened. The first was that an ice jam on the Dog River in Berlin released and washed into the Winooski, right at the end of our freeze up jam. This can been seen from lower State Street just beyond the interstate overpass. The second thing that happened was that we experienced some upstream ice break up in the area of Gallison Hill Road, just before the confluence with the Stevens Branch. This was our first sign up upstream break up. With the jam, the breakup and still rising water we began to get concerned all over again.

The good news, of course, is that the water level peaked and then receded a bit without any additional ice break up. We expect the river level to continue to drop as the accumulation of snow melt flows through and is not replaced. The temperatures have dropped which is preventing additional snow melt (although also slowing ice melt in the river). Looking at the weather forecast, we don't see any conditions which will put us in high risk mode for about a week.

Here's what to expect though. Overnight tonight we should be getting 10-20 inches of wet snow. Thankfully this is not rain or we could be in for a big problem. Temperatures will stay in the 20s and 30s until early next week minimizing run off.

But...around Wednesday of next week we could be seeing warmer temperatures, possibly even into the 50's which will reactivate the melting. And we'll have 10-20 new inches of snow in the snow pack to melt. And we are very likely to still have the existing jam caused by the Dog River. And we don't know if the upstream ice will remain strong enough to hold together during another rapid rise period.

The point is we possibly have a slight respite (although we can't totally relax while a jam exists) but could be facing the very same risk next week. Please continue your plans and preparations.

In a couple of detail matters:

Since there is a surplus of sandbags remaining in front of City Hall, the National Guard discontinued their sandbagging operation this morning. We deeply appreciate their assistance. They filled and moved 5,665 sandbags. Those sandbags remaining at City Hall are available for use. The city has stockpiled some as well in case more are needed. Again, remember that sandbags work best with plywood and plastic behind them.

IN order to eliminate any confusion, the city is discontinuing its noon time testing of the fire siren. We know it works and, when left to run, is audible in most downtown locations.

A small amount of people have indicated that these e-mails are reaching them a few hours after they were sent. The city system shows all e-mails being sent in a timely fashion and it seems that the vast majority of the 500 or so recipients are getting them as they go out. If you are having problems it may be with your e-mail provider and you may want to check with them.

My thanks to everyone for your cooperation and patience. This has dragged on a long time and won't truly be over until the ice is all gone from the river. The threat is real and remains. The city will continue its mitigation efforts. I also thank the many other agencies, particularly the State of Vermont Emergency Management Agency (VEMA) leadership of Barbara Farr and the public information work of Mark Bosma but also Pat Ross from ANR, Mike Bertrand from Administration as well as Kate White Cold Regions Research and Engineering Lab (CRREL). And many others. These people have been on 4 AM conference calls with us the last two mornings and have been with us all the way.



Update from City Manager -
Not Out of the Woods Yet
3:30 P.M., Thursday, March 15, 2007

While the apparent worse period (warm rain) is over and the ice sheets have held firm, we are still in a period of risk. The river continues to rise with projections of more water coming in. Therefore the risk of the ice sheets breaking up is still present. In addition, an ice jam on the Dog River (which caused some flooding in Berlin today) released and deposited a lot of ice into the Winooski creating a small jam there in the midst of our freeze up area. We are seeing some evidence of water back up as a result of this although nothing serious yet.

Earlier this afternoon we thought things were easing up, we can't assume that now. Please remain on alert and watching/listening closely.



Vermont Emergency Management Noon Update
12:00 P.M., Thursday, March 15, 2007

Contacts:
William Fraser, Montpelier City Manager, (802) 223-9502
Mark Bosma, Vermont Emergency Management (800) 347-0488

-There will be no alarm test in the city of Montpelier at noon today.

-There are plenty of sandbags in front of City Hall for residents and businesses that need them.

-The latest update on the Winooski River as it runs through Montpelier indicates that the river level is still 6-7 feet below flood stage. The rise in the river has NOT caused any significant ice break up (ice break-up could cause an ice jam which would most likely lead to flooding.) Water appears to be flowing well and there are few areas of concern. However, warm temperatures and rain are expected to continue, so spotters will continue to monitor the river. The rain is not expected to raise the river level to flood state (about 15-feet), but there is still a concern that the rise could break up the ice and cause an ice jam. The situation could change at any time and the flood hazard is at its highest point to date so residents are strongly urged to monitor conditions and tune into radio and TV broadcasts for weather and flood updates. If a flood is imminent Vermont Emergency Management will activate its Emergency Alert System. The siren at the fire station would also ring as a last line of warning.

Other Latest Information:

-Should a flood occur in Montpelier and shelters be needed, they will be set up by the Red Cross at Vermont College and National Life. Residents are encouraged to continue to be ready for evacuation, should it be needed. Those with special needs are urged to call the Montpelier Fire Department at 229-4913 to make special arrangements for possible evacuation.

-The Vermont National Guard will continue to fill sandbags in Montpelier until the end of the week. Residents and businesses are invited to pick up sandbags at Montpelier City Hall as they become available. Again, there are plenty available at this point.

-There has been some localized flooding in other parts of the state. Most of these are areas where flooding traditionally occurs. Motorists are advised to drive with caution this morning and as always, are advised NOT to drive through flood waters.



Vermont Emergency Management Morning Update
8:30 A.M., Thursday, March 15, 2007

Contacts:
William Fraser, Montpelier City Manager, (802) 223-9502
Mark Bosma, Vermont Emergency Management (800) 347-0488

-The latest update we have on the Winooski River as it runs through Montpelier indicates that the river level is still 7-8 feet below flood stage. The rise in the river level did NOT break up the ice overnight, and spotters do not report any cracks that could indicate an imminent problem (ice break-up could cause an ice jam which would most likely lead to flooding.) Water appears to be flowing well and there are few areas of concern. However, warm temperatures and rain are expected to continue throughout this morning, so spotters will continue to monitor the river. The rain is not expected to raise the river level to flood state (about 15-feet), but there is still a concern that the rise could break up the ice and cause an ice jam. The situation could change at any time and the flood hazard is at its highest point to date so residents are strongly urged to monitor conditions and tune into radio and TV broadcasts for weather and flood updates. If a flood is imminent Vermont Emergency Management will activate its Emergency Alert System. The siren at the fire station would also ring as a last line of warning.

-Should a flood occur in Montpelier and shelters be needed, they will be set up by the Red Cross at Vermont College and National Life. Residents are encouraged to continue to be ready for evacuation, should it be needed. Those with special needs are urged to call the Montpelier Fire Department at 229-4913 to make special arrangements for possible evacuation.

-The Vermont National Guard will continue to fill sandbags in Montpelier until the end of the week. Residents and businesses are invited to pick up sandbags at Montpelier City Hall as they become available.

-Flyers have been printed featuring tips on what to do before, during, and after a flood and evacuation maps. Those flyers are available at Montpelier City Hall in the City Managers and City Clerks offices as well as at the Montpelier Police Department dispatch area. Flyer is also available for download on-line at http://www.montpelier-vt.org/flood/monitor_pub.cfm

-There has been some localized flooding in other parts of the state. Most of these are areas where flooding traditionally occurs. Motorists are advised to drive with caution this morning and as always, are advised NOT to drive through flood waters.



Update from Montpelier City Manager
5:00 A.M., Thursday, March 15, 2007

Its 5:00 AM as I type this. City and State officials have been doing ice inspections since 3:00 AM and held a conference call at 4:00 AM, more inspections are happening now and we all will talk again at 5:15 AM

The good news at this time is that the sheet ice on the river (upstream of the freeze up jam or channel obstruction) has not begun to break up and is not yet showing the type of cracking that indicates that break up is imminent.

The bad news is that the rain is steady and predicted to continue to midday and the river level has been steadily rising. We are not concerned that this river rise will come anywhere close to flood level. We are, however, very concerned that the rapid river rise will cause break up of the sheet ice and send it into the jammed up area.

If, however, the sheet ice holds we are going into a colder weather pattern which will slow or stop melt and we should be in good shape.

Unfortunately we will not have really good information until our next two hourly river gauge readings and until we can see the ice formations better.

THE NEXT FEW HOURS ARE GOING TO BE THE HIGHEST RISK TIME PERIOD this week. Please stay on alert and be listening to local radio stations etc. I will try to provide you up dates as often as practical.

The Police Chief, Fire Chief, state river people, State Emergency Management people, Cold Regions Research and Engineering Lab staff, your police and fire personnel and I are all communicating regularly about this - most of us are up and out here in Montpelier looking at the situation first hand.

I'll let you know more as I know more.

Bill Fraser



Vermont Emergency Management Daily Update
Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Contacts:
William Fraser, Montpelier City Manager, (802) 223-9502
Mark Bosma, Vermont Emergency Management (800) 347-0488

-National Weather Service reports the Montpelier area is likely to see steady rain overnight tonight with temperatures above freezing. The US Geological Survey estimates these conditions will cause a 3-4 foot rise on the Winooski River as it runs through Montpelier. This is expected to raise the river level to 7-8 feet, which is well below the flood stage of 15 feet. However, the rise may be enough to break up significant sections of ice which could cause ice jams and lead to flooding. State and City officials will monitor conditions throughout the night and issue alerts should they be necessary. Residents are advised to closely monitor conditions and tune into radio and TV broadcasts for weather and flood updates.

-Should a flood occur and shelters are needed, they will be set up by the Red Cross at Vermont College and National Life. Residents are encouraged to continue to be ready for evacuation, should it be needed. Those with special needs are urged to call the Montpelier Fire Department at 229-4913 to make special arrangements for possible evacuation.

-The combination of wastewater and fire hydrant water continues to degrade the ice, creating apparent channels. Engineers will do measurements of the ice and channels on Thursday.

-The Vermont National Guard will continue to fill sandbags in Montpelier until the end of the week. Residents and businesses are invited to pick up sandbags at Montpelier City Hall as they become available Sandbags should be used along with plywood and plastic to be most effective. We are fortunate to have this assistance from the National Guard. Be sure to maximize the benefit of sandbags that you use by placing plywood and plastic behind them.

-The Montpelier Fire Department will continue testing its warning siren each day at noon. The tests will be between 10-15 seconds in duration. Residents are advised that the sirens are the "last line" of the warning system and are urged to regularly monitor radio and TV as well as weather radios for updates on river conditions.

-Flyers have been printed featuring tips on what to do before, during, and after a flood and evacuation maps. Those flyers are available at Montpelier City Hall in the City Managers and City Clerks offices as well as at the Montpelier Police Department dispatch area. Flyer is also available for download on-line at http://www.montpelier-vt.org/flood/monitor_pub.cfm.



National Weather Service Releases
Flood Watch for Most of Vermont
Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Below is the text from the recently released NWS flood watch.

We have seen an increase in the rate of rise and level of water but it seems to have peaked about 8:00 am. We will monitor the rivers more closely until this warning is resolved.

HAZARDOUS WEATHER OUTLOOK
NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE BURLINGTON VT
451 AM EDT WED MAR 14 2007

THIS HAZARDOUS WEATHER OUTLOOK IS FOR NORTHERN NEW YORK...CENTRAL VERMONT...NORTHEAST VERMONT...NORTHWEST VERMONT AND SOUTHERN VERMONT.

.DAY ONE...TODAY AND TONIGHT

WARM TEMPERATURES IN THE UPPER 40S TO THE LOWER 50S TODAY ACROSS THE NORTH COUNTRY...
WILL CONTINUE TO MELT THE AREA SNOW PACK...
AS WELL AS LOOSENING UP RIVER ICE ON AREA RIVERS. A FRONT WILL MOVE SOUTH ACROSS THE REGION AS WELL TODAY...
BRINGING THE CHANCE FOR LIGHT RAIN...
WHICH WILL ALSO ADD TO SNOW MELT AND LOOSENING UP RIVER ICE. AS A RESULT...
THIS WILL CONTINUE WITH THE POTENTIAL FOR ICE JAMS ON AREA RIVERS...
INCLUDING ALONG THE WINOOSKI RIVER IN THE MONTPELIER AREA WHERE AN EXISTING FREEZE UP JAM EXISTS JUST DOWNSTREAM OF THE AREA. THE NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE WILL CONTINUE TO MONITOR THESE TEMPERATURE TRENDS FOR POSSIBLE START OF RIVER ICE BREAKUP AND ANY ASSOCIATED FLOODING CONCERNS.

.DAYS TWO THROUGH SEVEN...THURSDAY THROUGH TUESDAY

TEMPERATURES IN THE 40S ACROSS THE REGION ON THURSDAY WILL CONTINUE CONDITIONS MENTIONED IN ABOVE SECTION. THE NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE WILL CONTINUE TO MONITOR THESE SITUATIONS.

COLDER AIR WILL WORK INTO THE NORTH COUNTRY LATE THURSDAY AND FRIDAY. A SYSTEM LATE FRIDAY COULD BRING MIXED WINTRY PRECIPITATION TO THE AREA...SETTING THE AREA UP FOR POTENTIAL HAZARDOUS WINTER DRIVING CONDITIONS.

http://www.erh.noaa.gov/showsigwx.php?warnzone=VTZ008&warncounty=VTC023&local_place1=Montpelier&product1=Flood+Watch





Vermont Emergency Management Daily Update
Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Contacts:
William Fraser, Montpelier City Manager, (802) 223-9502
Mark Bosma, Vermont Emergency Management (800) 347-0488

-National Weather Service reports the Montpelier area is likely to see rain overnight starting on Wednesday. The rain is expected to be accompanied by temperatures in the 40s. This weather does NOT pose an immediate threat of flooding, however, residents are advised to closely monitor conditions and tune into radio and TV broadcasts for weather and flood updates.

-The City of Montpelier reports progress in its efforts to melt the river ice with treated wastewater. An approximately 5-foot wide by 300-foot long break can be seen in the path of the water.

-The Vermont National Guard will continue to fill sandbags in Montpelier on Wednesday and throughout the week. Residents and businesses are invited to pick up sandbags at Montpelier City Hall as they become available.

-The Montpelier Fire Department will continue testing its warning siren on Wednesday at noon. The test will increase from 5 seconds to 15 seconds. Residents are advised that the sirens are the "last line" of the warning system and are urged to regularly monitor radio and TV as well as weather radios for updates on river conditions.

-The Montpelier Fire Department will also be conducting a full scale drill at the fire station on Wednesday to test its preparedness. *This will only be a test and should not be cause for alarm*.

-An informational program featuring basic information about how to prepare for the flood and what is happening has been produced and will be airing on Comcast Channel 15 in Montpelier. For broadcast times, go to http://www.dps.state.gov/vem

-Flyers have been printed featuring tips on what to do before, during, and after a flood and evacuation maps. Those flyers are available at Montpelier City Hall in the City Managers and City Clerks offices as well as at the Montpelier Police Department dispatch area. Flyer is also available for download on-line at http://www.montpelier-vt.org/flood/monitor_pub.cfm.

-Officials with the city of Montpelier continue to have daily contact with the office of the Governor, Vermont Emergency Management, Vermont State Police, Department of Public Safety, Cold Regions Research and Engineering Laboratory, the Corps of Engineers, the National Weather Service, USGS, the Vermont National Guard, the Vermont Agency of Transportation, and the Vermont Agency of Natural Resources.



Siren Follow-up
Tuesday, March 13, 2007
The Fire Department siren operated successfully at noon today.

We received several reports that it was not audible in all parts of the city. We will test it again tomorrow and let it run longer (which also allows it to wind up to a louder volume).

This is one of our main concerns about the siren as a warning device however - not everyone can hear it. Please remember that the siren will only be used as the final warning when the river is actually flooding. Please follow news reports on local radio and in local newspapers. We will make every attempt to keep people informed through this list serve, the city's website and the news media.

When/if a flood event approaches it will be preceded by weather reports and indications of high risk from the city - probably a day or two in advance. There may well be a flood watch or warning announced by the National Weather Service. A flooding event most likely will involve heavy rain so pay attention to that.

If there is significant movement on the river and within the ice, the city's automatic alarms will go off. Once it is verified that flooding may be imminent, we will notify radio and TV stations and activate the emergency broadcast system. This may proved one to two hours notice before actual flooding begins.

Finally, as the last warning we will sound the siren. Please do not wait for this siren to take actions or rely on the siren for a sole warning.



City to Test Emergency Siren at Noon
Tuesday, March 13, 2007

The City of Montpelier is scheduled to test their emergency siren at noon today.

Also, they anticipate they may do additional tests on future days at noon.

Do not be "alarmed" - this is only a test.



Montpelier Ice Jam Monitoring Workshop
Introduction to Ice Jams
Tuesday, March 13, 2007

On Saturday, March 10, Kate White of CRREL gave a Powerpoint presentation to the Montpelier Police Department staff.

Here is a copy of the presentation, in PDF format, to help educate citizens of Montpelier on what is happening with the potential flood situation.

Montpelier Ice Jam Monitoring Workshop (28 pages, 4,311 KB) Adobe Acrobat icon





Update from City Manager
Monday, March 12, 2007

Sandbags: Many thanks to Suzanne Hechmer and the Montpelier Downtown Community Association for organizing the sandbag filling operation this weekend. Many thanks also to all the volunteers who participated. We appreciate your help and your concern for the community.

This morning the city learned that the National Guard will be bringing a sandbag filling machine and providing personnel over the next few days. In addition to the 7,000 sandbags the city has left, the Guard will be bringing about 5,000 more. These will be used for state buildings as well as being made available to the general public. We don’t have details yet about distribution points but will post that information as soon as possible.

People should understand that Sandbags are most effective when plywood and plastic are placed behind them. Because bags are stacked water can get through the cracks. Sandbags will slow the water’s entry and are very good for preventing broken windows caused by the weight of water pressure against them.

Weather: The current weather pattern is very positive for us. The most favorable conditions are a slow melt because that weakens the ice build up in the area where the river restriction exists. It also weakens and reduces the size of potential ice blocks. The least favorable conditions are a major rainstorm accompanied by very warm weather. This will rapidly increase river flow and break the sheet ice above the restricted area into large blocks that have not had time to weaken. These have the highest likelihood of jamming up the restricted river channel.

Right now we anticipate some rain and warm weather on Wednesday/Thursday followed by cooler temperatures and freezing rain/snow over the weekend. Based on current predictions we don’t anticipate the amount of rain to pose an imminent threat.

William Fraser
City Manager



Vermont Emergency Management (VEM) Daily Update
March 12, 2007

The National Weather Service reports the Montpelier area could see rain overnight Wednesday into Thursday. One-half to three-quarters of an inch of rain is possible during that period before the precipitation turns to freezing rain and/or sleet. This is NOT expected to lead to flooding as there is still sufficient snow pack on the ground to absorb the precipitation. However, residents are still asked to closely monitor conditions and tune into radio and TV broadcasts for updates.

The Vermont National Guard will be filling sandbags in Montpelier on Tuesday (Governor's Office will issue a release on this).

The Montpelier Fire Department will begin tests of its alert sirens starting on Tuesday. The tests will be 2-5 seconds long. The first test will be 4 cycles of 2-3 minutes.

The Montpelier Fire Department will also be conducting a full scale drill at the fire station on Wednesday to test its preparedness.

An informational program featuring basic information about how to prepare for the flood and what is happening has been produced and will be airing on Comcast Channel 15 in Montpelier.

Flyers have been printed featuring tips on what to do before, during, and after a flood and evacuation maps. Those flyers are available at Montpelier City Hall in the City Managers and City Clerks offices as well as at the Montpelier Police Department dispatch area. Flyer is also available for download on-line at http://www.montpelier-vt.org/flood/MontpelierEvacuationRtes.pdf.

Officials with the city of Montpelier continue to have daily contact with the office of the Governor, Vermont Emergency Management, Vermont State Police, Department of Public Safety, Cold Regions Research and Engineering Laboratory, the Corps of Engineers, the National Weather Service, USGS, the Vermont National Guard, the Vermont Agency of Transportation, and the Vermont Agency of Natural Resources.

Mark Bosma
Public Information Officer
Vermont Emergency Management



Montpelier Emergency Management Update to be aired on ORCA Channel 15
March 12, 2007

Mark Bosma, of Vermont Emergency Management interviews Montpelier Police Chief Doug Hoyt about current flood prevention operations under way in
Montpelier, and what residents and downtown workers should do before and during a flood. It runs 17 minutes, and was recorded on Monday, March 12.

AIR TIMES – ORCA CHANNEL 15 (COMCAST VIEWERS ONLY)

Mon 3/12 12:00p, 3:30p, 11:30p
Tue 3/13 1:00a, 3:00a, 5:00a, 7:00a, 11:30p
Wed 3/14 1:00a, 3:00a, 5:00a, 7:00a, 11:00a, 4:00p
Thu 3/15 1:00a, 3:00a, 5:00a, 7:00a, 11:00a, 5:00p,
Fri 3/16 12:00a, 1:00a, 3:00a, 5:00a, 7:00a, 11:30a, 6:00p, 6:30p
Sat 3/17 1:00a, 3:00a, 5:00a, 7:00a, 4:00p, 8:30p
Sun 3/18 1:00a, 3:00a, 5:00a, 7:00a, 2:30p, 10:00p
Mon 3/19 1:00a, 3:00a, 5:00a, 7:00a

ORCA will stop running this program if we are told by emergency management officials that the danger of flooding has passed. Beginning Tuesday, March 13 the program will run 1:00a, 3:00a, 5:00a, 7:00a every day until the danger of flooding has passed.

For those who want a lo-resolution copy, a downloadable movie file of the broadcast is available at the link below:

http://www.montpelier-vt.org/flood/floodprep.mov (Quicktime Movie file, 16 mins 53 secs, 12.75 MB)


Additional Flood Monitoring Links From NOAA
March 12, 2007


Here are some links to a NOAA center that does some great work with snowpack information. The links show computer simulations of the current snow cover across the region. They give viewers a good idea of how much snow there is, how much liquid water is in the snow, and how "ripe" (or ready to melt) the snowpack is.

As with all computer "models", its not exact. Use with caution. But it does help to give us some guidance on the state of the snow.

Snowpack Water Equivalent - the amount of liquid water held in the snow.

Snowpack Density - The density is the ratio of liquid water to snow depth. A new snowfall may have a density of 10 to 20 percent. A ripe snowpack will have a density of 50% or greater.

Snow Pack Temperature. Compare snow density and snow pack temp. A ripe snowpack warmed to 32 is a melting snowpack.


Flood Message from Mayor Hooper
March 8, 2007


Dear Friends:

The City is facing an unprecedented challenge with the Winooski River this year. The ice jam that formed in January is different from any we have experienced before. We are doing everything we can to prevent a flood, but due to the nature of the ‘freeze-up’ ice jam, many of the methods we have used in the past for breaking ice jams simply do not work. If you would like information on what has been done to prevent a flood, please visit the flood monitoring page our web site:

http://www.montpelier-vt.org/flood/monitor_pub.cfm

Despite the considerable expertise of federal officials and strong support of state officials it is impossible to know if there will be flooding or where or when it could occur.

If there is a flood it will be in low areas in and around the downtown. It could be the same areas that were flooded in 1992, or it could be in adjacent areas; it could be upstream or down stream from these areas. If there is a flood it could happen quickly - water could rise to cover the downtown in less than an hour. As a result we are asking everyone in the Montpelier community to be thoughtful and prepared so they can protect themselves and help their neighbors.

Notices are being sent to school families about plans for the schools. We are working with the Red Cross to provide shelters for people who can not reach their homes or who are forced out of their homes. Depending on the need, shelters will be at Vermont College, National Life and/or the High School.

Employers are being urged to put contingency plans for protecting their employees and protecting their businesses in place. People unfamiliar with the area should familiarize themselves with routes outside of town which do not go through the downtown or across the rivers in low-lying places.

Flood notice:

During the month of March, we expect there could be flooding if we have weather warmer than 50 degrees during the day and above freezing weather at night which causes the snow to melt rapidly and/or if we have heavy rain for more than several hours. If this sort of weather is predicted, please start monitoring weather reports and the news media. The city will attempt to alert the public using the following methods.
  1. E-mail and list serve. This system will update you on weather forecasts and prepare you to monitor the news media. You can subscribe to the list serve by going to the City's website on the flood. Its is www.Montpelier-vt.org
  2. News media-we will ask local stations to provide information on the status of potential flooding as the likelihood of a flood increases.
  3. The emergency broadcast system on the radio and TV. This system will be activated if flooding is imminent.
  4. Sirens on city hall. The sirens will only be used as a last resort and if flooding is happening.
The city has information on the river conditions and links to weather forecasts on its website. If you are able, please visit our web site at www.Montpelier-vt.org for this information.

Flood preparation for you and your family:
  • If you need to leave your home with short notice, be ready to go. Make sure that everyone has a flashlight and sturdy shoes near the bed.
  • Do you know what you are going to do if you have to leave your home? Do you know how to safely move away from flooded areas? Do you have a plan for communicating with your family? Will you stay in a shelter? Answer these questions now, not while you are leaving your home.
  • Plan and practice a flood evacuation route with your family. Ask an out-of-town relative or friend to be the "family contact" in case your family is separated during a flood. Make sure everyone in your family knows the name, address, and phone number of this contact person.
  • Prepare to not return home for at least 72 hours. Pack an emergency bag with a change of clothing and the following items, as appropriate:
    • Prescription medication, glasses, dentures, hearing aides and batteries and any other items appropriate for special needs;
    • Infant food and diapers, if you have young children;
    • Pet food and a way to move the pet, if you have a pet; Corrina Jordan, who lives in Montpelier, has generously volunteered to help people find temporary homes for their pets. You can contact her at 223-2574, 223-3875, or writecorrina@yahoo.com.
    • Special documents, including shot records (when was your last tetanus shot?)
Flood preparation for your home:
  • Secure items that could fall and cause damage or injury during a disaster, such as the water heater, refrigerator, book shelves, and other tall and heavy furniture.
  • Tie down oil or gas tanks. Cover vent pipes. Secure fill pipes.
  • If necessary, change the placement of furniture and household items to make the house safer. For example, don't place beds under windows or heavy objects over beds; keep exit routes clear; move heavy items to lower shelves or drawers; and remove or isolate flammable materials. Move grills and their propane tanks out of the reach of flood waters.
  • Install clips, latches, or other locking devices on cabinet doors.
  • Provide strong support and flexible connections on gas appliances.
If you are ordered to evacuate or if your home is threatened by flood:
  • DO NOT ignore an evacuation order.
  • If we can, emergency service personnel will direct you to leave if you are in a low-lying area, or within the greatest potential path of the rising waters.
  • If you see rising water that presents a risk to your home-leave, move away from the flood.
If a flood warning is issued for your area or you are directed by authorities to evacuate the area:
  • Take only essential items with you
  • If you have time, turn off the gas, electricity, and water.
  • Disconnect appliances to prevent electrical shock when power is restored.
  • Follow the designated evacuation routes and expect traffic.
  • Do not attempt to drive or walk across creeks or flooded roads.
  • Follow directions from emergency service personnel.
Driving in flood conditions: The following are important points to remember when driving in flood conditions:
  • Six inches of water will reach the bottom of most passenger cars causing loss of control and possible stalling.
  • A foot of water will float many vehicles.
  • Two feet of rushing water can carry away most vehicles including sport utility vehicles (SUV's) and pick-ups.
Know the Terms: Familiarize yourself with these terms to help identify a flood hazard:
  • Flood Watch:
    • Flooding is possible. Tune in to NOAA Weather Radio, commercial radio, or television for information.
  • Flash Flood Watch:
    • Flash flooding is possible. Be prepared to move to higher ground; listen to NOAA Weather Radio, commercial radio, or television for information.
  • Flood Warning:
    • Flooding is occurring or will occur soon; if advised to evacuate, do so immediately.
  • Flash Flood Warning:
    • A flash flood is occurring; seek higher ground on foot immediately.

We hope this is helpful.

Sincerely,
Mary Hooper, Mayor


Flood Update from Police Chief Doug Hoyt
March 7, 2007


Thanks to all of you for being a part of the communication system that the City is putting together for flood information. Not in any particular order, here are some of the latest events and information.
  1. Both new river gauges are in and functioning fine. They are linked and available for viewing on the Flood Monitoring page of the City's website.
  2. Evacuation routes out of the City and possible routes away from the City are also now available on the web site in the flood section. They are in a PDF format and can be printed from your computer: http://www.montpelier-vt.org/flood/MontpelierEvacuationRtes.pdf
  3. The latest information from the National Weather Service is indicating we'll be below normal temperatures for much of this week. By the weekend into early next week, we'll be trending back toward normal, which is highs in the 30s, and lows in the teens. This pattern will also give us periodic quick shots of precipitation from "clipper systems". These types of systems typically don't put down a lot of moisture, which is good because we don't need to add any more to the snow pack. There are some signs that we'll have a cool down to below normal again (although not this bitterly cold) about 10 days out, which puts us into mid March.
  4. The extreme cold weather may delay the pumping of treated wastewater into the Winooski until Friday. This is water that is already being placed in the river but will be done at a permitted location with the hopes of melting the ice from below.
  5. Dusting, a process of putting dark organic material on the ice may begin as early as Thursday. City staff continues to work on firming up shelter activity and working with state and federal officials to better understand conditions as they change. We are also trying to identify all the possible notification systems that exist to let people know about flooding conditions.
If you are aware of a phone tree that is used by a school, church, or other organization, please send the primary contact information to the Planning Department: ghallsmith@montpelier-vt.org. Whether or not a flood will actually occur is, obviously, not known. The best advice we can obtain tells us that unfavorable conditions are present and so there is a higher probability than normal for a flood to occur. The weather over the next several weeks will be the ultimate decision maker. Prepare your home and workplace for the possibility now - don't wait until you get notice that the flood is imminent, because we will be closing off the high risk areas to protect public health and safety and you may not be allowed access to the downtown or other areas when the warning is given. If you own a business or residence that has a floor drain in the flood zone, please make sure that you have had a check valve installed * otherwise drains can work in reverse and be an entry point into your building for rising flood waters. Future updates will be sent via this listserv as we know more.

Douglas S. Hoyt, Chief of Police
Montpelier Police Department
1 Pitkin Court
Montpelier, VT 05602
802-223-3445


Real-Time Data from
Winooski River Monitoring Stations in Montpelier
added March 6, 2007


The charts below represent an effort to provide advance notice of changing river conditions to provide Montpelier Officials with up-to-date information on the Winooski River. They are not intended to be a definitive predictor of imminent flooding, as there are multiple factors in flood conditions and warnings.

There are two gauges – one near the Two Rivers Farm and the other near the Carr Parking Lot. The devices are contacted every hour via cell phone to obtain the information. They are also set to notify a select group of officials when the water raises a set amount in a 24-hour period and/or when the water reaches a set height specific for each location.

This information is also being shared with the National Weather Service to assist them in making warnings and watches for flooding in the Montpelier and Winooski watershed area.
  • Two-Rivers Farm Data
  • Carr Parking Lot Data
NOTE: If you are having trouble viewing the Data tables, visit the CRREL webcam site at the following link:

https://webcam.crrel.usace.army.mil/montpelier/


For more information about these charts, please contact Dr. Kate White at Kathleen.D.White@erdc.usace.army.mil


Flood Preparation Update
February 28, 2007
William Fraser, City Manager


Since last week’s council meeting:
  • Ice monitoring devices have been installed on the river. Readings are being received in live time and are posted on the web in two hour increments. Access is currently restricted to certain officials to prevent potential hacking. We are setting up a “mirror” web site so that these readings can be viewed by anyone at any time.
  • A meeting was held yesterday morning with many involved agencies including the Cold Regions Research and Engineering Laboratory (CRREL), the Army Corps of Engineers, Vermont Emergency Management, FEMA, Department of Buildings and General Services, Agency of Natural Resources River Management Division, Red Cross, Town of Berlin, National Weather Service, Washington County Sheriff, State Police, Governor’s office and City of Montpelier Police, Fire and Public Works. This meeting was to review the current status, talk about present and anticipated weather conditions, and review, again, possible mitigation/prevention activities.
  • The National Weather Service is forecasting at least two more weeks of colder temperatures which will not lead to rapid thaw and ice break up. This allows some time for other techniques to work. We are concerned about the impact of a possible 6 to12 inch snow storm later this week, not only on the water load but also on the DPW crew and equipment capacity.
  • As a result of that meeting, the City is beginning the following operations:
    1. As soon as tomorrow we will be flowing water from fire hydrants into the river. This water has higher temperature than the river and ice and will serve as a warming agent. Locations will be selected based on advice from CRREL and locations of hydrants. In the lower area of the river, fire hoses will be use to establish or widen channels of water moving through.
    2. We have begun steps to temporarily pump, pipe and permit the relocation of the sewer plant discharge from its current location at the Dog River to a new site directly into the Winooski. This will provide 1.3 million gallons per day of warmer water into one of the icier areas. We expect this to be up and running by next week
    3. We are preparing to begin a “dusting” operation next week. This involves blowing darker material on top of the snow/ice cover of the river to attract solar gain and heat up the surface. This is particularly effective on sheet ice, less so on frazil ice but we are going to try it anyway. We will use snow blowers to deliver a dark product, possibly mixed with salt. The product will either be dark stone, sand, ash or something like that. We’re looking into what works best with the equipment, what is available etc.
    4. We are assembling a ready list of available heavy equipment (excavators mostly) and thinking about locations for possible deployment. We are advised not to attempt serious ice removal or channel widening right now but will mobilize equipment if conditions indicate that risk is rising.
    5. We are holding an Emergency Planning Meeting this afternoon with many of the state and service agencies who attended yesterday’s meeting. This is for the purpose of pre-planning and coordinating specific response efforts in the event that a flood does occur.
    6. We are assembling a master contact list and will begin regular updates to that list starting next week. This will include weather forecasts, river readings, progress on operations and any other information. These will also be posted to the city’s web site.
    7. We are continuing as much public education and outreach as possible. Yesterday the Savoy Theater showed the video documentary of the 1992 flood. Chief Hoyt attended to answer questions. Todd Law and I were unable to attend because we were meeting with Jeffrey Jacobs’ property managers to discuss flood preparation issues.
    8. This morning we submitted an application to FEMA for a flood mitigation grant to install vanes in the river as designed by Dubois & King. This is a total project cost of $325,000 for which there is a 25% local share or $81,250. If the application is successful we will finance the local contribution through some combination of reallocating capital plan priorities, use of fund balance and financial assistance from the state.
    9. We are developing a public notification plan. This will have several stages - the first when predicted weather conditions look like they could cause problems, the second when indicators tell us that the river is rising and looking suspicious and the third when actually flooding has begun or is imminent. We will communicate this plan through our master contact list, the web and the press.
    10. We are preparing maps showing alternate vehicle routes out of town.

Freeze-up Ice Jam Situation in Montpelier
February 9, 2007
William Fraser, City Manager


The City of Montpelier and the Vermont Emergency Management Agency, assisted by the Cold Regions Research and Engineering Laboratory (CRREL), the New York District of the Corps of Engineers (NAN), the National Weather Service and the Vermont Agency of Natural Resources are closely monitoring ice and weather conditions to assess the potential for breakup ice jamming later in the winter. The City and State are undertaking a full range of mitigation, early detection and prevention actions to the extent possible. Due to the potential seriousness of potential flooding, however, they are also issuing a public caution to Montpelier residents, businesses and property owners.

The City and State are installing pressure monitoring devices into the ice to continually trace its condition and movement. Police and Fire employees are performing regular visual inspections of river conditions and levels. The Department of Public Works is preparing to use a crane and excavator to maintain an open river channel to attempt to avoid water and ice build up. Other potential immediate actions are being evaluated for effectiveness. The City is also actively pursuing FEMA funding for installation of permanent vanes in the riverbed which will work to reduce jamming situations in the future.

Although a freeze up ice jam presently exists, there is no immediate threat today or this week. Weather conditions in the next few weeks, though, could create a much higher risk of flooding. At this time there is no reliable indication of long term weather patterns and how they will impact the river. People are urged to take immediate steps to protect their properties and valuables and minimize losses.
  • People should monitor weather reports and pay heed to flood watches and warnings. The worse case weather scenario is four more weeks of cold weather followed by rapid thaw and a heavy downpour of warm rain.
  • Basements and low areas of buildings should be cleared of any valuable inventory, goods or records. It has been 15 years since the flood of 1992. There are new owners, residents, and businesses in the city who may not be fully aware of the importance of keeping things out of harms way.
  • Furnaces, oil tanks, gas tanks etc. should be checked to assure that they are properly secured. Whenever possible, buildings with areas that have water entry should be protected with sandbags or something similar. In the event a flood does occur – if safely possible electrical boxes and furnaces should turned off before a building is evacuated.
  • Buildings in high risk areas are eligible for Flood insurance. Building owners should consider purchasing this as soon as possible. There is now a 30 day period before such insurance becomes effective. Information on the flood insurance program is available at City Hall or through the Vermont Emergency Management Agency. It should be noted that flood insurance covers damage to buildings but not necessarily contents. Residents and businesses should review their insurance plans to have a clear understanding of what may and may not be covered.
  • Building and business owners should be sure that they have current emergency contact information for their employees, vendors, contractors etc. They should also provide the city with their own current emergency contact information.
An unusual combination of above-average river discharge followed by several weeks of very cold air temperatures has resulted in a freezeup ice jam downstream of the city of Montpelier. Freezeup ice jams occur when frazil ice formed in fast-flowing, open water sections of river drift downstream to accumulate in slower reaches or at channel obstructions. Frazil ice appears as drifting slush or pan-shaped floes and, in turbulent sections of river, the frazil ice may adhere to the river bed in the form of anchor ice. The surface of a freezeup ice jam is rough in appearance due to the shoving (stacking up) of the arriving ice floes. A freezeup ice jam can resist or block off water flow beneath the ice, resulting in upstream water level rise and, in some cases, flooding. Freezeup jams differ from breakup ice jams which typically occur later in the winter when rapid melting, often with rainfall, cause the upstream ice cover to release en-masse and move down the river as a breakup ice run. Historic ice jam floods in Montpelier, such as the one in 1992, resulted from breakup and not freezeup ice jams.

In a normal winter with more average river discharge, sheet ice covers typically form upstream of the Main St. Weir and the Pioneer Dams. These upstream ice covers intercept drifting frazil ice, reducing the frazil ice volume available to form a freezeup ice jam below the city. Under normal circumstances, a sheet ice cover forms in the Cemetery Bend reach, rather than the freezeup ice jam that now exists there. The freezeup ice jam poses a hazard since it could better resist passage of the breakup ice run later in the winter, increasing the potential for ice jam flooding at Montpelier.

Occurrence of a breakup ice jam later this winter depends on several factors. First continued cold is needed to form a thick ice cover upstream of the city to supply ice to the breakup jam. Second is the nature of the ice breakup period: A best case scenario would be several weeks of sunny days in late-February and early-March to gradually melt the ice covers upstream and downstream of Montpelier. At the other extreme four more weeks of cold weather followed by rapid thaw and rain could release the upstream ice suddenly resulting in an ice jam at Montpelier.

The City and State will continue to issue information as it becomes available.
 

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