Heavy rains fell in The Valley last Saturday and Sunday, March 5 and 6, causing parts of the Mad River to rise to as high as nine feet high in places as significant ice dams formed in various sections.
The rain caused ice jams and dams along the length of the Mad River, causing the river to breach its banks from Warren through Moretown. In Waitsfield, American Flatbread’s parking lot and driveways went underwater after ice filled the bridge over Route 100, redirecting the water on American Flatbread.
Behind Fisher Auto in Waitsfield ice blocked the river, causing the river to redirect itself towards Fisher Auto, Valley Dental and the Waitsfield Laundromat. The water rose precipitously and visibly at that location – with the redirected river encroaching on the bank by some five feet in 20 minutes.
Cars were hastily removed from the parking area to the north of Bridge Street in Waitsfield where the river also rose quickly as the ice dams moved through the pinch point of the Waitsfield Covered Bridge.
Meadow Road in Waitsfield flooded just beyond the bridge as large ice dams formed in open sections of the Mad River including behind Small Dog Electronics. Route 100B was flooded and closed for part of Sunday and the Mad River came over Route 100B in the sharp turns north of Moretown Village.
As the ice dams broke up, flooding receded, but roadways remained covered with water when the rain turned to snow at 1 p.m. on Sunday. The snow fell from Sunday midday all the way through Monday evening, leaving The Valley blanketed in two to three feet of snow. Schools and many offices were closed on Monday, March 7, as cancellations were reported all day long. Many people were unable to dig their cars out and walked, hitched or rode the Mad Bus to the mountains to ski.
According to the U.S.G.S. stream gauge in Moretown, the river reached National Weather Service flood stage (nine feet - up from an average of three feet between March 2 and 5)) on Sunday while peak flows remained low – 200 cubic feet per second. The low flow was due to the ice jams. For comparison, peak flow rates during July and October flooding last year ranged between 5,000 to 9,000 cubic feet per second at the gauge in Moretown.
For comprehensive stream flow data visit www.waterdata.usgs.gov.