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Flooding threat ebbs along Allegheny in Parker

| Thursday, March 20, 2014, 1:01 a.m.

Ice is stacked high along the banks of the Allegheny River in Parker, and officials say they are not expecting more problems with flooding along Route 268 in this city in the northern tip of Armstrong County.

“That ice is stacked so high that it'll probably be there until next winter,” said Mayor William McCall.

The area was hit by floods during warmer periods throughout the winter. Expectations were that the thick ice that formed in the harsh winter would be the source of more problems once temperatures began rising in March.

City officials prepared evacuation plans, and county crews readied emergency water supplies in preparation for the worst. But the worst never came. The water level now is at seven feet, well below the flooding stage of 20 and emergency level of 23.

Meteorologist Rihaan Gangat, with the National Weather Service in Moon, said a slow thawing and freezing process kept the ice from breaking away rapidly and jamming along the Allegheny River. Ice jams are frequently the source of flooding problems.

“Ice jams are impossible to predict, but we only saw a few minor ones this year around Brady's Bend and Parker, which weren't enough to cause flooding,” he said. “Now, it's breaking up and moving nicely.”

Gangat said temperatures should remain well above freezing for the rest of the winter, with low temperatures dipping into the mid-30s this weekend.

McCall said emergency officials considered this winter's flood threat a learning experience.

“We were very fortunate because everybody worked so well together this year,” McCall said. “Next year, if something happens, we have plans under our belt and will be ready to respond quickly and efficiently.”

Brad Pedersen is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 724-543-1303, ext. 1337, or bpedersen@tribweb.com.

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