WATERBURY — A Vermont town hit hard by Tropical Storm Irene five years ago now has access to forecasts for the level of the Winooski River.

The National Weather Service has started forecasting river water levels in Waterbury to help with flood preparedness.

Meteorologist Andy Nash says predicting the level of the Winooski will increase the weather service's capability to warn of impeding floods and provide information for local emergency managers and responders to make critical decisions.

The weather service says the forecasts extend out three days and are updated once every day during normal and low-flow conditions and more often during high water or flooding.

Nash says the forecasts will also be useful for paddlers, anglers, dam operators and power companies.