gilboa_dam.jpgHere's a geeky weather factoid Gothamist dug up this morning: Through the first 16 days of March we have had 9 days of colder than normal temperatures, 6 days above normal, and one day, yesterday, of normal temperature. With half again as many cold days as warm you would expect the average temperature to be below normal, but the warm days were so above average that March is way warmer than normal. If that average were sustained for the rest of the month we'd have one of the warmest March's ever. Alas, there will be no warmth for the next several days. Like today's weather? It is going to be repeated well into next week. Clear skies, highs in the lower 40s, lows in the mid-20s. A warm-up is expected at the end of next week.

Last month Gothamist mentioned that the city's water reservoirs upstate were almost full except for the northernmost reservoir, "the Schoharie, is only at 79.1% of capacity". An upstate reader alerted us to the reason for the Schoharie's low levels. The Gilboa Dam needs emergency repairs. The reader reports:

"the dam is in danger of sliding and even failing, so they are installing 79 anchor cables to tie it down, in one big emergency rush job. I'm one of the 10,000 or so people who live downstream of those 20 billion gallons, and we are told that if the dam breaks, the surge will be 20 to 30 feet deep all down the Schoharie Valley… The situation is so bad that the city has bought emergency alert radios for hundreds of families in the flood zone (I have one) and is also probably going to pay for warning sirens to be installed up and down the valley.

In addition to the immediate threat of flooding from a failed dam, a major concern of people living downstream is that the city is proposing to rebuild the Gilboa Dam to a strength below generally accepted engineering standards. Yesterday, the Times published an article about the reservoir situation and the complex balancing act the city needs to play between ensuring an adequate water supply, providing flood protection, releasing cool water in summer to protect stream ecosystems, and complying with a U.S. Supreme Court decision to share Delaware River water with Pennsylvania, New Jersey and Delaware.

Photo of notch cut in Gilboa Dam to draw down reservoir level from