The 1949 New Years Flood

Image of water equivalent precipitation totals across the Northeast from December 28, 1948 through January 1, 1949.

Rain with warming temperatures started on December 28, 1948 as a result of a low pressure system moving into New England from the southwest. As the system was blocked by high pressure over the North Atlantic, the system stalled. Over the next several days, over 5 inches of rain fell, primarily over the Housatonic and Hudson River basins. The peak accumulations, just over 13 inches, fell in the Berkshires, in western Massachusetts. Only during the last 24 hours of the event, which ended on January 1, did the rain turn into snow.

Most of the streams and rivers started to crested on either New Years Eve or New Years Day. While there was some snow on the ground at the beginning of the event, the major portion of the runoff was from the rain.

Record breaking peaks occurred at several locations within the Hudson and Housatonic drainages. Flooding also occurred in some of the western tributaries to the Connecticut River. The flood on the lower Hudson was reduced somewhat by the controls at Sacandaga Lake, which held all inflow beginning on the morning of December 31. The result was that the record breaking floods above the reservoir, did not result in record breaking flows below the dam.

Total damages from the flooding were estimated to be approximately 10 million dollars. In addtion, at least five lives were lost in Massachusetts and Connecticut.

River Location Flow cfs/sq mile Stage
Connecticut Thompsonville 138,000 cfs 14 csm 9.30 ft
Deerfield Charlemont 42,600 cfs 118 csm 17.8 ft
Housatonic Gt Barrington 12,200 cfs 43 csm 12.1 ft *
Housatonic Gaylordsville 32,300 cfs 32 csm 14.9 ft
Hudson North Creek 28,900 cfs 36 csm 12.1 ft *
Hoosic Eagle Bridge 55,400 cfs 108 csm 21.1 ft *
Hudson Green Island 181,000 cfs 22 csm 27.1 ft
Note: * represents flood of record