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SAM Magazine—July 10, 2023—Concern is growing among ski area operators in Vermont and New York, with damage already being reported in the wake of two days of torrential rains and historic flooding in the Northeast.Magic MountainCourtesy of Magic Mountain The National Weather Service has issued a flash flood warning through Tuesday morning, including the mountain regions of both states, calling Vermont the “highest risk.”

The deadly storm dropped as much as 10 inches of rain on areas of New York's lower Hudson Valley on Sunday before moving East, bringing downpours across Vermont, with more than 4 inches of rain reported in some mountain locations. The governors of both states have declared a state of emergency.  

Geoff Hatheway, president of Magic Mountain in Londonderry, Vt., told SAM that the town’s West River is overflowing, roads accessing the mountain and condos are washed out, and homes and businesses in south Londonderry remain inaccessible due to flooding. At the ski area, flooding occurred at the base near the Red and Green lift load stations and water had entered the lodge in several areas subterraneously.

“We are very concerned about our town and surrounding mountain communities with the volume of water we are seeing,” said Hatheway. “There is not a full assessment up the hill, but water bars and culverts are overflowing, and the service road is damaged.”  

The resort’s nine-million-gallon snowmaking pond dam built last fall, engineered for this type of catastrophic event, had not incurred damage, though “large amounts of silt will be an issue into the pond,” said Hatheway. “The additional concern is that we may only be midway through this event.” 

In Ludlow, home to Okemo, resort officials report heavy flooding that has forced the ski area to close its adventure and bike parks at least through this Wednesday, July 12. 

“We are focused on safely assessing and managing any impacts around the resort as conditions allow,” said Courtney DiFiore, Vail Resort’s senior communications manager, northeast. “The extent to which we reopen later in the week will depend on conditions.”

About half an hour north, near Killington, Route 4 had already been closed—since July 6—due to a storm that caused a landslide near the Skyship gondola. And in New York, Windham Mountain closed its bike park, golf course, and pub “due to extreme rainfall and forecasted weather.” 

Some predict the aftermath could be worse than Hurricane Irene, which caused $13.5 billion in damage to the region in 2011. “It's an unfolding disaster,” said Peggy Shinn, Vermont resident, Olympics sports writer and author of the book Deluge: Tropical Storm Irene, Vermont’s Flash Floods, and How One Small State Saved Itself. 

“Irene dumped a huge amount of water, but in a relatively short period of time, this storm is extended, with the forecast showing it looping back over Vermont tonight and into tomorrow,” Shinn said. And though Irene mostly affected only the central and southern parts of the state, “this storm will likely devastate the entire spine of the Green Mountains.”

Forecasters predict multiple rounds of moderate to heavy rain over portions of Vermont and northeastern New York through Tuesday morning, with as much as another 7 inches possible.

NOAA's Weather Prediction Center (WPC) has placed most of Vermont and portions of northeastern New York under a rare "high risk" of excessive rainfall—the first high risk issued for Vermont since Irene.

SAM will continue to follow this breaking news event.