ShareThis Page

No wonderland: 1st the threat of flooding, then ice storm, then snow

| Friday, Jan. 12, 2018, 9:48 p.m.
Flowing ice causes damage to boat docks along the Allegheny River in Tarentum on Friday. Jan. 12, 2018.
Jack Fordyce | Tribune-Review
Flowing ice causes damage to boat docks along the Allegheny River in Tarentum on Friday. Jan. 12, 2018.
A vehicle jockeys around debris left from high water along Bull Creek Road in Fawn on Friday, Jan. 12, 2018.
Louis B. Ruediger | Tribune-Review
A vehicle jockeys around debris left from high water along Bull Creek Road in Fawn on Friday, Jan. 12, 2018.
Flowing ice causes damage to boat docks along the Allegheny River in Tarentum on Friday, Jan. 12, 2018.
Jack Fordyce | Tribune-Review
Flowing ice causes damage to boat docks along the Allegheny River in Tarentum on Friday, Jan. 12, 2018.
Flowing ice causes damage to boat docks along the Allegheny River in Tarentum on Friday, Jan. 12, 2018.
Jack Fordyce | Tribune-Review
Flowing ice causes damage to boat docks along the Allegheny River in Tarentum on Friday, Jan. 12, 2018.

Ahead of a winter storm threatening to wallop the area with ice and snow, record-breaking rain brought flooding to large parts of the Alle-Kiski Valley on Friday.

The weather service announced just before 5:30 p.m. Friday that a flood warning was in effect until 5:15 a.m. Saturday for northwestern Westmoreland, Allegheny, Armstrong and Butler counties, among others.

The weather service said water was expected to begin receding late Friday night and into Saturday.

Pittsburgh easily broke the more-than-century-old daily record for precipitation for Jan. 12.

The weather service said 1.64 inches of rain had fallen through 5 p.m. — with more on the way.

It broke the old record from 1907 of 0.97-inch, which had stood for 111 years.

Because of the winter storm, PennDOT temporarily reduced the speed limit to 45 mph on several roadways in Allegheny, Beaver and Lawrence counties, including Route 28; Interstates 79, 279, 376 and 579; and US 22/30.

PennDOT urged drivers to avoid unnecessary travel.

Early morning small stream flooding caused New Kensington-Arnold and Lower Burrell school districts to delay start of classes Friday morning.

New Kensington-Arnold Superintendent John Pallone said Pucketa Creek had left its banks, causing some flooding along Seventh Street. The water left debris near the Valley High School tennis courts.

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.

Elsewhere in the Alle-Kiski Valley, the rain caused flooding and closed part of Bull Creek Road at Iron Bridge Road in Fawn.

Basements, roads flood

Jim Schilling, who has lived in the 1800 block of Bull Creek Road in Fawn for nine years, said the creek went over its banks around 7 in the morning. His basement flooded — and the backed up sewer kept it there.

"My basement had about a foot-and-a-half of water in it, which didn't drain through the sewer," he said. "At that point, the sewer is not effective anymore. It doesn't work."

Schilling said he keeps a lot of stuff in his basement, but keeps it elevated.

But possessions aren't the only concern.

"Every time it floods, the flooding deteriorates my foundation a little bit more," he said. "It gets worse every time."

Schilling said he still had a steady stream of water in his basement seeping through the foundation Friday night, but by then the sewer had started working again, and it was draining.

"Tomorrow will be a nice day of cleaning everything up and sanitizing everything," he said.

A bigger problem in Armstrong

Flooding, from streams and the Allegheny River, was a problem in many Armstrong County locations.

Numerous roads were closed throughout the day, Armstrong County Public Safety Director Bill Hamilton said.

Glade Run flooded, closing Glade Run Road between Route 128 in Cadogan and Pony Farm Road in North Buffalo. It was reopened by 3:30 p.m., PennDOT said.

Other small streams flooded and closed parts of Worthington-Slate Lick Road, and Bear Road, between Yellow Dog Road and Green Acres Road in West Franklin.

Nicola Road/Mushroom Farm Road was closed between Hindman Hill Road and the Butler County line in West Franklin.

As the day wore on, the rain let up. Sleet, ice and freezing rain was expected before the precipitation would change over to snow.

Some Bull Creek Road residents expected ponds in their yards to freeze into ice skating rinks.

Ice jams

Ice jams were a threat on small streams as well as area rivers, particularly in Armstrong County.

Hamilton said an ice jam was causing water to rise rapidly on the Allegheny River between the Rimer area and East Brady. The ice had stopped moving, and authorities were trying to locate it Friday evening.

Hamilton said they knew of one home on Rimerton Road that was surrounded by water from the river.

Uncertainty about additional rain and runoff still flowing into the river made figuring out if things would get better or worse difficult as the night went on.

"It's very difficult to say what might happen over the next few hours," Hamilton said Friday evening.

To prepare for ice problems, the Army Corps of Engineers "stripped anything mechanical" at Lock 5, Ford City, as well as any loose equipment, spokesman Jeff Hawk said.

Lock 4 at Natrona in Harrison was placed on the "action phase" by the Corps.

"We're watching," he said.

The Corps had a grant to study how to flood-proof Bradys Bend.

Hawk said a public meeting will be held this summer to review what the study showed.

Chuck Biedka and Brian C. Rittmeyer are Tribune-Review staff writers. Reach Biedka at 724-226-4711, cbiedka@tribweb.com or via Twitter @ChuckBiedka; reach Rittmeyer at 724-226-4701, brittmeyer@tribweb.com or on Twitter @BCRittmeyer.

TribLIVE commenting policy

You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.

We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.

While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.

We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers

We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.

We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.

We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.

We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.