Remnants of Hurricane Ida expected to bring heavy rainfall, flash flooding to parts of PA

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This satellite image provided by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and captured by NOAA’s GOES-16 shows lightning swirling around the eye of Hurricane Ida as the storm approaches the Louisiana coast, Sunday morning, Aug. 29, 2021. (NOAA via AP)

Heavy rainfall and flash flooding is expected in some parts of Pennsylvania as remnants of Hurricane Ida are expected to merge with another weather system, bringing 3 to 6 inches or more of rain to some areas.

Governor Tom Wolf was joined by the Pennsylvania Emergency Management Agency (PEMA), Department of Transportation (PennDOT), and the Pennsylvania State Police (PSP) in a news conference Wednesday to give an update on state agency response to remnants of Ida.

“This is an extremely dangerous storm that is impacting the entire state. As we continue to monitor the conditions, I ask everyone to please stay home if you’re able,” Gov. Wolf said. “If you must travel, please monitor the latest road conditions and weather updates. Please, I urge everyone to take this storm seriously and stay safe.” 

“We have dispatched water rescue teams from parts of the state that will see less flooding and moved them to areas where we expect more significant impacts from the rain and flooding,” said PEMA Director Randy Padfield. “We now need people to stay off the roads unless travel is necessary. If you must travel, do so safely and be aware that conditions can change quickly.” 

According to the National Weather Service, rain is expected to begin late Tuesday night in southwestern Pennsylvania and spread to the north and east throughout the day Wednesday into Thursday morning. 

The heaviest rain is expected Wednesday into Wednesday night. 

Widespread rainfall totals of 3 to 5 inches are expected across south-central Pennsylvania with higher amounts up to 7 inches possible. 

Several streams and creeks are expected to reach minor to moderate flood levels in the Juniata and Lower Main Stem Susquehanna basins. A few points could crest above major flood stage on Thursday.

An isolated damaging wind gust or weak/brief tornado threat remains limited and confined to southeast Pennsylvania.

On Tuesday, Governor Wolf issued a proclamation of disaster emergency in anticipation of significant rainfall and widespread flooding.

PennDOT is warning motorists not to drive across roads covered with water because even shallow, swiftly flowing water can wash a car from a roadway. Also, the roadbed may not be intact under the water.

Never drive around barricades or signs on closed roads – Turn Around, Don’t Drown.  

“Our crews have been preparing for days by clearing out debris around drainage inlets and under bridges while readying equipment,” Acting PennDOT Executive Deputy Secretary Melissa Batula said. “With the forecast amount of rain, we remind the public to not drive on roads that are covered with water because even shallow, swiftly flowing water can wash a car from a roadway.” 

The Wolf Administration says state agencies are monitoring conditions and are ready to support counties with any state resources needed.

According to the Wolf Administration, 120 Pennsylvania National Guard members are on state active duty to support local emergency and rescue operations. Some members are part of the Pennsylvania Helicopter Aquatic Rescue Team (PA-HART), a joint partnership between the PA Army National Guard, the PA Fish and Boat Commission, PEMA and credentialed civilian rescue technicians. 

The Department of Conservation and Natural Resources (DCNR) announced that several state park and forest campsites will be closed Wednesday and Thursday as the remnants of Tropical Depression Ida approach Pennsylvania. Additional campsite closures may be required depending on rainfall and the trajectory the storm takes as it passes through the commonwealth. 

PEMA encourages citizens to take additional steps to prepare for this and all emergencies by participating in September’s 30 Days/30 Ways event as part of National Preparedness Month (NPM). Register here.

This year’s theme for National Preparedness Month is “Prepare to Protect. Preparing for disasters is protecting everyone you love.” 

Tips from PEMA for preparing for emergencies:

  • create a family emergency plan so loved ones know who to contact and where to go in an emergency
  • sign up for weather alerts
  • know how to safely turn off utilities in and around your home
  • sign up for the Ready PA monthly newsletter for additional preparedness tips throughout the year.

Visit ready.pa.gov for more information on preparing for an emergency.

To view the latest forecast from Your Weather Authority, click here. The detailed 7-day forecast from Your Weather Authority can be found here.

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