Updated: Friday, 06 May 2011, 4:50 PM EDT
Published : Tuesday, 03 May 2011, 4:19 PM EDT
(WTNH) - The flooding Connecticut suffered in early March, 2011, was so early on in the season it's hard to imagine that more flooding is possible. Whether a surprise or not, the potential still exists.
All that snow from this past winter needs to go somewhere. And in March it did, right into our river systems.
"We have valley streams, we have rivers, we have lakes, we have the Atlantic Ocean; we have many sources where that water can come in," explained Storm Team 8 Meteorologist Dr. Mel Goldstein.
Combined the melting snow with spring rains and you have a recipe for floods.
"Connecticut is a very flood-prone area," Dr. Mel said. "In fact, it's one of the most flood prone areas in the entire country.
Entering the month of May people might be thinking 'it must be over already, right?' Not so fast.
"The risk is always there even if we take the snow pack factor out," Storm Team 8 Meteorologist Gil Simmons said. "We can get some very heavy rainstorms."
So what does that mean for us?
"Our problems come from anytime you get rainstorms starting from one inch two inches in the forecast, and sometimes three or four inches," Simmons explained. "So you are talking a month's worth of rain in one rain storm and all of that water running down like a funnel, but the funnel can handle just so much."
Just take a look back at 2010. Portions of the state were declared federal disaster areas after flooding caused heavy losses to homes and businesses totaling in the millions. The potential for something more severe exists as well.
"There's been a lot of water put into the ground and that could have an effect in terms of a big storm or if we get a hurricane for example," Dr. Mel said. "We could find ourselves in big time trouble in terms of big time flooding."
Think back to August of 1955 when Connecticut was on the receiving end of a one-two punch sparked by two hurricanes. The devastation in Connecticut was unmatched. More than 90 people died and nearly a half billion dollars of property was lost. Virtually no place in the region was left untouched.
"I was in the basement of my house with my grandfather and we were trying to bail out the water that was piling up in the basement," said Dr. Mel. "We wondered where was this water coming from. Was it rain water or coming from the ocean? So being from the old school my grandfather put his hand in the water and tasted it and said it's not the ocean, and soon the fire dept came and evacuated us."
But let's be clear -- these are extreme cases. Flooding happens here and we see it play out over and over again.
"You first have to look at the smaller creeks and streams because they are always first to respond," Simmons said. "Rivers like the Quinnipiac, the Still River, to some extent the Housatonic River ... they always seem to rise and fall the quickest. And even in Eastern Connecticut the Yantic River as well."
But whatever the outcome -- good or bad - the fact is weather can turn on a dime and if you aren't paying attention it may do more than just influence your day. It may impact your life. That's the uncertainty weather provides.
Next week, we'll look at how forecasting technology gives us the edge to stay ahead of the storm. And remember to visit the weather section of WTNH.com for the latest weather reports and conditions.