The Washington PostDemocracy Dies in Darkness

As flood-ravaged Vermont cleans up, more heavy rain is forecast

Saturated soils can’t hold more rain, but new rounds are expected in the Northeast from Thursday through the weekend

People walk a dog on a muddy street Tuesday in Montpelier, Vt. (Steven Senne/AP)
5 min

As Vermont and New York’s Hudson Valley attempt to dry off and pick up the pieces from the disastrous flood event Sunday and Monday, forecasters are warily watching the potential for more heavy rain between Thursday and the weekend.

The National Weather Service has placed both hard-hit areas, and much of the Northeast, under a Level 2 of 4 risk for excessive rainfall Thursday. That risk will continue into Friday in Vermont and locations to the east.

Forecasters at the Weather Service say rainfall chances are poised to continue at least into the weekend, if not a bit longer.

Floods test Vermont’s quaint mountain towns in age of climate change

“This may not be over,” Gov. Phil Scott (R) said at a news conference Wednesday. “With rain in the forecast and nowhere for it to go, we could see waters rise again.”

The extreme flooding in Vermont — the worst since Irene in 2011 and the great flood of 1927 in some areas — was caused by rainfall of 5 to 7 inches across much of the state, and locally up to 9 inches. Six to 8 inches of rain triggered the severe flooding in the Hudson Valley.

The latest on flooding in Vermont

Despite Monday’s historic torrents, Vermont had not recorded any fatalities from the flooding as of 8 a.m. Wednesday, Commissioner of Public Safety Jennifer Morrison said at the news conference.

More than 200 rescues and 100 evacuations had taken place since Sunday, Morrison said. She said numerous water rescues are ongoing in Lamoille County, the hardest-hit area. There, emergency responders rescued 32 people and numerous animals overnight, she said.

Although multiple communities are on boil-water notices, power outages in the state have dropped below 1,000, Morrison said.

President Biden issued an emergency declaration for Vermont on Tuesday, and FEMA Administrator Deanne Criswell said damage assessments are underway.

Sen. Peter Welch (D) said FEMA is dealing with an “unprecedented” number of national disasters and called for an increase in funding for the agency.

“Every Vermonter whose home has been affected is just a long, very tough road ahead,” he said. He added, “It’s tough, it’s long and the recovery begins today.”

Officials also addressed concerns about the Wrightsville Dam in Montpelier. Vermont Emergency Management Interim Director Eric Forand warned of “misinformation” about the dam’s “failure or imminent failure.”

“Not accurate,” he said. “It’s acting in the way it’s supposed to act.”

He said the dam has “stabilized” and is now at reduced risk. He said the state is monitoring the dam closely.

The flooding had heavily impacted the state’s transportation infrastructure. Joe Flynn, the state’s transportation secretary, said 46 roads remained closed and seven partially opened Wednesday.

Risk of excessive rainfall Thursday and Friday

The prospect for more rain comes as waters continued receding across most of Vermont and the Hudson Valley on Wednesday, when — aside from a few pop-up showers and storms — mostly dry weather was forecast. The Lamoille, Winooski and Mad rivers — previously at major flood to record flood stages between Montpelier and Burlington — had fallen to minor flooding levels at many gauges Wednesday morning.

But farther south, water levels were still cresting along the Connecticut River in interior Connecticut; significant flooding was occurring in Portland, south of Hartford. And the dry weather is forecast to be short-lived throughout the region.

Skip to end of carousel