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Warring weather systems battle it out and region gets soaked in the process

| Thursday, July 11, 2013, 12:02 a.m.
Sidney Davis | Tribune-Review
A fast moving Sandy Creek in Penn Hills is swollen near it's banks following heavy rains which has produced flash flooding in the area on Wednesday July 10, 2013.
Keith Hodan | Tribune-Review
Garry Roehling (left,) moves a ladder from his flooded walkway along Baldwin St. in Bridgeville after McLaughlin Run breached its banks flooding the homes along the way, Wednesday, July 10, 2013. Roehlings basement was flooded to the roof, destroying his washer, dryer, and other appliances.
Andrew Russell | Tribune-Review
Tony Sikorski 71, of Bridgeville sweeps standing water out of his garage after heavy rains caused severe flooding in Bridgeville, Wednesday. Sikorski moved to Bridgeville after losing his family home when Carnegie flooded from Hurricane Ivan in 2004.
Andrew Russell | Tribune-Review
Ed Ahrndt with the Bridgeville Borough (left) and Mike Minella of Minella Plumbing attempt to pump standing water out of an empty lot after heavy rains caused severe flooding in Bridgeville, Wednesday.
Andrew Russell | Tribune-Review
Dan Cunningham (center) and Frank Tome, both of Bridgeville, clean muck out of the basement of the Owls Club on Baldwin Street in Bridgeville on Wednesday, July 10, 2013.
Keith Hodan | Tribune-Review
Crews clean out the Owls Club along Baldwin St. in Bridgeville after McLaughlin Run breached its banks flooding the homes and buildings along the way, Wednesday, July 10, 2013.
Keith Hodan | Tribune-Review
Vivian Collier treads carefully through the muck on Baldwin Road in Bridgeville on Wednesday, July 10, 2013. The vehicles behind her had been carried by high waters before being deposited along the sidewalks.
Keith Hodan | Tribune-Review
Bernie Orient hoses off his mud-covered equipment along Margaret Street, near Baldwin Street, in Bridgeville after McLaughlin Run breached its banks, flooding the homes and buildings along the way on Wednesday, July 10, 2013.
JC Schisler
A foam head and other debris from Marilyn Mance's business, Executrim Family Hair Salon & Wig Center, is strewn along Bower Hill Road in Scott after stormwaters flooded her building and washed past Painters Run Road. Flash flooding from heavy rains on Wednesday, July 10, 2013, devastated parts of the region.
JC Schisler
Marilyn Mance, owner of Executrim Family Hair Salon & Wig Center, reacts to her business being destroyed by flash flooding that occurred behind her building on Bower Hill Road in Scott on Wednesday morning, July 10, 2013. A large storm pipe and drain behind her building were overpowered by the severe rain waters. Mance said this isn't the first time the building has been affected by the drain. She and her husband, Frank, own the building, which is home to two other businesses. Those businesses also were destroyed.
Justin Merriman | Tribune-Review
People cross a flooded Noblestown Road in Oakdale on Wednesday afternoon, July 10, 2013.
Justin Merriman | Tribune-Review
Sam Fabila (from left), 50, Joe Cochran, 19, and Levio Corgnati, 20, work to free a culvert of debris beneath a driveway in Oakdale on Wednesday afternoon, July 10, 2013.
Justin Merriman | Tribune-Review
A child traverses a flooded Noblestown Road in Oakdale on Wednesday afternoon, July 10, 2013.
Barry Reeger | Tribune-Review
Karl Irwin looks over the flooded and closed Park Hill Road near his home on Wednesday, July 10, 2013, in North Huntingdon.
Barry Reeger | Tribune-Review
PennDOT workers try to clear debris from high creek waters at Guffey and Turner Valley roads in North Huntingdon on Wednesday, July 10, 2013.
Barry Reeger | Tribune-Review
Debris covers Turner Valley Road as PennDOT workers attempt to reopen the road on Wednesday, July 10, 2013, in North Huntingdon.
Barry Reeger | Tribune-Review
Water overflows its bank — flooding yards along Guffey Road — on Wednesday, July 10, 2013, in North Huntingdon.
Justin Merriman | Tribune-Review
Rennerdale volunteer firefighter Daniel Bright carries Cheryl McLuckie to safety from her home along Noblestown Road in Oakdale as floodwaters surround her home on Wednesday, July 10, 2013.
Justin Merriman | Tribune-Review
Theresa Locke, left, sits on her front porch with Deena Hennon as flood waters surround her home in Oakdale on Wednesday, July 10, 2013.
Justin Merriman | Tribune-Review
Randy Wolfe of Imperial slogs through the flooded streets of Oakdale on Wednesday afternoon, July 10, 2013, after helping a friend evacuate.
Justin Merriman | Tribune-Review
Oakdale firefighters Mike Hartman (left) and Luke Navickas salvage gear from their fire station on Wednesday, July 10, 2013.
Justin Merriman | Tribune-Review
Ginny Manius tries to keep floodwaters from reaching her home along Noblestown Road in Oakdale on Wednesday afternoon, July 10, 2013.

It was a washout waiting to happen.

Oppressive tropical air steaming Western Pennsylvania since June finally erupted, colliding on Wednesday with a cooler high-pressure system from Canada to dump near-record rain on parts of the South Hills and other Pittsburgh suburbs, forecasters said.

“The two pressure systems are going to fight it out but the Canadian one is going to win” by Thursday, said Henry Margusity, a senior meteorologist with AccuWeather.com in State College. He said Western Pennsylvanians this weekend “can actually go out and cut your grass without sloshing in the mud.”

They'll need to dry out first. Torrential rain arrived in two waves — at about 6 a.m., and then about 12 hours later.

Morning storms alone positioned the rain among the region's most intense in a decade, said state climatologist Paul Knight.

The National Weather Service reported about 2.5 inches between 6 and 9 a.m. in some South Hills neighborhoods, a burst that overwhelmed storm sewers, waterways and rush-hour traffic. Pittsburgh's single-day rainfall record for this month is 3.48 inches, on July 28, 1999, though the all-time record for the city is 5.95 inches on Sept. 17, 2004, during Hurricane Ivan, according to the weather service.

One-day rain tallies during July in Pittsburgh have topped 2.8 inches four times since 1927, weather service records show.

Water levels rose dramatically on Wednesday in part because of saturated ground, soaked by frequent storms over the past several weeks, forecasters said. Rain fell on Pittsburgh all but one or two days since June 25, according to AccuWeather.com.

“All the streams and tributaries were immediately bank-full and immediately came out of their banks,” said John Darnley, a weather service meteorologist in Moon. “There was nowhere for it to go.”

One of the worst-hit was Chartiers Creek in Carnegie, where water by midday reached 11.8 feet — up from its normal flow of 1.47 feet, Darnley said. He said nearby tributaries ran as high as 10 times normal levels.

The conditions marked a stark change from last summer, when Pittsburgh recorded just 1.96 inches of rain from June 6 to July 10, according to the New York consulting firm Weather 2000. More than 8 inches fell during the same period this summer, said company chief meteorologist Michael Schlacter, calling the discrepancy “a tale of two summers.”

Overall rainfall in Pittsburgh since June 1 is about 50 percent above average, according to AccuWeather.com. Knight left open the possibility of additional serious storms in the next month or so, “only because there's no substantive change in the way weather patterns are working right now.”

Forecasts through early next week promise sunny skies.

“It would take a while for the atmosphere to reload, to get the sort of goop you've had,” Knight said.

Staff writers Tom Fontaine and Tory N. Parrish contributed to this report. Adam Smeltz is a Trib Total Media staff writer. He can be reached at 412-380-5676 or asmeltz@tribweb.com.

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