Rising flood waters prompt evacuations, road closures
A record amount of rain and melting snow caused widespread flooding across Southwestern Pennsylvania before a quick pivot to dropping temperatures and freezing rain.
In Bridgeville, emergency crews evacuated residents from homes along McLaughlin Run Road and Badwin Street after creeks in the area began rising quickly. Residents were allowed back into their homes about three hours later, though Baldwin Street remained closed while fire crews helped homeowners pump water out of their basements.
In Murrysville, police shut down a section of lower Ashbaugh Road between Saltsburg and Mamont roads after a mudslide blocked the road around 10:30 a.m. The road was cleared about 1:30 p.m.
Employees for Baierl Automotive scrambled to drive cars out of a lot that rapidly filled with water near Perry Highway in McCandless, according to Baierl Automotive Vice President Lee Baierl. It was too late to save some vehicles. Some suffered flood damage and will have to be declared a total loss, though the full extent of the damage is unknown, Baierl said.
"Our team worked hard and quickly to remove our vehicles from the flooded area to minimize the loss as much as possible," he said via email.
An Allegheny River ice jam also became a concern Friday.
At 1:30 p.m., the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and National Weather Service said the ice was along the river near East Brady, Pa.
To prepare for problems, the Army Corps "stripped anything mechanical" at Lock 5 in Ford City as well as any loose equipment, said spokesman Jeff Hawk.
Lock 4 at Natrona in Harrison was placed on the "action phase" by the Army Corps.
"We're watching," he said.
By 8 a.m. Pittsburgh had received 1.49 inches of rain, shattering the 111-year-old rainfall record of 0.97 inches for this day in history. Had the city received 0.04 more inches last night it would have broken the record for Jan. 11 as well.
#Pittsburgh > already has broken the daily record rainfall for January 12th with 1.49' through 8am. This breaks the old record set 111 years ago (1907) of 0.97'. Pittsburgh was 0.04' short of breaking the record rainfall for January 11th. #pawx— NWS Pittsburgh (@NWSPittsburgh) January 12, 2018
Much of Allegheny County received more than 2 inches of rain. Bell Acres led the way with 2.92 inches as of 8 a.m. Friday, according to the National Weather Service.
Authorities closed numerous roads because of high water in the morning. Many roads reopened as water receded.
The temperature dropped precipitously through the afternoon and was expected to dip below freezing in the evening to create slick conditions on area roads as rain turned to snow, according to the National Weather Service.
A winter storm warning is in effect, and ice is expected to build up on roads making driving difficult.
Staff writers Megan Guza and Chuck Biedka contributed. Jacob Tierney is a Tribune-Review staff writer.