After severe weather, a call for climate-resilient infrastructure
By Chloe Bennett
Rain showers over the North Country caused a flood watch warning in some Adirondack counties including Clinton and Essex on Tuesday. The weather is the latest in an exceptionally wet summer that changed some of the park’s landscape and wildlife habitat.
Data from the SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry show that the Newcomb campus ended the month with record rain, 13.7 inches, breaking a previous precipitation record of around 9 inches from 2021. Although the deluge contributed to their weather data, it damaged other ecological projects on the 15,000-acre Huntington Wild Forest. Collecting information on a 30-year loon nest project, for example, didn’t happen after the flood damage.
“With our long-term data set, we’re very well poised to study the disturbance that happened due to the storm,” Natasha Karniski-Keglovits said. “But ironically, because of the storm, we can’t access some of our sites that we need to get to, to look at those important questions.”
The extent of the project damage is the first of its kind, Karniski-Keglovits said. Some of the sites could be inaccessible until next summer.
The Adirondacks weren’t alone in experiencing record rain and severe weather last month. A report from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) shows that storms and extreme heat slammed many parts of the nation. Northeastern states, including New York and Vermont, had the top 10 wettest July on record.
Rainfall recorded at the Whiteface Mountain Field Station in Wilmington totaled 6.83 inches in July, according to Science Manager Scott McKim.
Precipitation in the Northeast is expected to increase from warming air and ocean temperatures. Arthur Degaetano, director of NOAA’s Northeast Regional Climate Center, said the past 30 to 40 years have seen more extreme rainfall than usual. “I think extreme rainfall, particularly in the Northeast, and climate change go hand in hand,” he said.
Addressing the increase in precipitation through infrastructure is critical to climate change adaptation, Karniski-Keglovits said.
“We need to start thinking about resiliency and how we can rebuild things after storms like this to better adapt in the future because it’s possible that we will continue to have big events in the future,” she said.
In Warren County, officials are updating their hazard mitigation plan because of the recent weather. “This summer’s severe flooding around the Northeast has underscored how important it is for municipalities and residents to prepare for hazardous weather and address risks before disaster occurs,” a press release reads.
In its current draft, the plan lists flooding as the county’s top hazard concern because of its increasing presence in the Northeast. According to the plan, flooding mainly occurs along the Schroon River in the Riverbank section and along the Hudson river, although areas with beaver dams are also at risk.
The county is seeking public input on the plan, which is available to the public until Sept. 2.