Lake Champlain hits record high levels; roads and ferries affected

ADDISON COUNTY — On Thursday, county residents bordering on Lake Champlain watched with bated breath as lake levels climbed to record-breaking heights.
As of 4:30 p.m. April 28, lake levels had topped out at 102.24 feet above sea level, then begun to slowly decline. The levels were far above flood stage, which is set at 100 feet, and they had already bested the previous record height of 102.1 feet, which was set in 1869.
Heavy rains on Wednesday and Thursday boosted river levels across the region, also raising the water level in Lake Champlain. As of Thursday afternoon, weather forecasters were predicting at least one more storm on the approach.
On Thursday morning, as lake levels climbed, authorities shut down the ferry that runs between Charlotte and Essex, N.Y. Then, in the early afternoon, the state announced it had closed a low-lying stretch of Route 125, between Route 17 and Jersey Street South in Addison.
“It’s a mess,” said Chrissie Wheeler, co-owner of 10 Acres Campground. “We have a pond and a creek, and now they’re combined.”
Wheeler’s Addison property lies between the Route 125 road closure and a piece of Route 17 that, on Thursday afternoon, was hovering close to the water level, and Wheeler said she feared closure of that road.
“We’ve owned the campground seven years, and this is the worst I’ve seen it,” she said.
While National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration numbers reported three-day rainfall totals below 1.5 inches across the lower areas of Addison County, other areas of the Lake Champlain watershed reported upwards of four inches.
And Tom Estey, Starksboro road commissioner, said the town had gotten at least enough rain to wash out five sections of road in the town. Washouts on Mason Hill Road and Big Hollow Road rendered both impassable, and Estey said the crews began working on the roads at 3 a.m., and had restored town roads to at least one lane by 3 p.m. with the help of road crews from Addison, Cornwall and Bristol.
Estey said he estimated the damage at $105,000 so far, and is holding his breath through the next forecasted round of bad weather.
“I’m hoping the worst has passed,” he said.
Reporter Andrea Suozzo is at [email protected].

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