Gazette: No relief: Rain forecast through weekend

No relief: Rain forecast through weekend

Staff Writer
Published: 7/13/2023 5:19:44 PM

NORTHAMPTON — A landscape saturated by torrential rains this month won’t be drying out any time soon if weather predictions hold true.

As much as 2½ more inches of rain could fall in the Northampton area between Thursday evening and Saturday morning, according to the National Weather Service.

“We’re looking at heavy rain this evening, overnight, even into tomorrow,” National Weather Service meteorologist Kyle Pederson said Thursday.

Docks of the Sportsman’s Marina in Hadley are shown Tuesday. STAFF PHOTO/CAROL LOLLIS

Local weather observer Dave Hayes said a squall line of showers, downpours and thunderstorms, some strong or severe, will sweep through the area Thursday night.

“The main issue will be renewed flash flooding with downpours and heavy rain expected,” Hayes stated in his forecast.

In an email, he said rainfall totals will vary quite a bit, ranging from a half-inch to as much as 2 or 3 inches across western Massachusetts. He said he expects higher totals to the north and west that could cause further flash flooding. Wind damage is also possible in northwestern Massachusetts and southern Vermont.

Looking ahead, the area could get more rain every day through Tuesday, with a strong chance of heavier rain some days.

“Sunday’s looking like a washout,” Pederson said.

Additional flash flooding is a possibility, but Hayes said he doesn’t expect Sunday’s weather to be too damaging.

“My thought is that tonight and tomorrow is not as bad as early (this) week, and that Sunday and Sunday night won’t be as bad as tonight and tomorrow,” he said in an email.

The area has already received approximately 4 inches of rain this month, and this, combined within even heavier rain to the north, where much of the watershed flows into the Connecticut River, has caused the river to flood its banks locally.

Corn stands in a flooded field off Aqua Vitae Road in Hadley, Wednesday. STAFF PHOTO/CAROL LOLLIS

The river dipped below flood stage Thursday afternoon at Northampton, according to the weather service, having flooded hundreds of acres of low-lying farm fields on both banks.

CISA (Community Involved in Sustaining Agriculture) announced Thursday that its revolving Emergency Farm Fund is reopening to aid local farms affected by floods, as well as the hard frost that damaged fruit crops in May. The fund offers zero-interest loans of up to $25,000 for farms in Franklin, Hampden, and Hampshire counties.

The river level was 21.75 feet at 3 p.m. in Holyoke, almost 3½ feet below the crest it reached early Wednesday, according to the U.S. Geological Survey. At Montague, the river was more than 6 feet down from where it crested Tuesday night, when it reached slightly above moderate flood stage.

The weather service warned Thursday that there was a “moderate risk of excessive rainfall … for southern Vermont and adjacent upstate New York, where additional heavy rainfall will pose a rapid increase in the risk for flash flooding following the intense rainfall and flooding earlier this week.”

Vermont and New York were hardest hit by last weekend’s deluge, with a number of communities severely flooded, including Vermont’s capital, Montpelier.