Minor Flooding Reported in District as Region Braces for Icy Blast

By Jason Togyer | Posted in: News

(Photos special to Tube City Almanac)

Minor flooding closed several area roadways on Friday morning as the Mon-Yough area braced for another icy blast.

Melting snow, followed by steady rain, caused ponding in low-lying areas, including along Route 837 in Dravosburg.

The unseasonably warm temperatures on Thursday and Friday are expected to be followed by a blast of freezing rain, ice, sleet and snow, which could freeze flooded roadways and make them treacherous.

The National Weather Service in Moon Twp. said Friday that accumulating snow on top of freezing rain was likely to result in "extremely dangerous if not impossible driving conditions" in parts of the region tonight.

The forecast has led several organizations to cancel activities scheduled for Friday night and Saturday morning.

In the South Allegheny School District, where the high school's winter formal is scheduled for tonight in North Huntingdon Twp., acting superintendent Alisa King urged parents to check Facebook, Twitter and the district's website to see if the dance was being cancelled.

In a prepared statement, King said that if the dance is held as scheduled, the district was urging students to be "transported to and from the dance by experienced adult drivers."

The district announced on Twitter that the dance would be dismissed early, at 8:45 p.m.

Clairton School District announced Friday that all evening activities, including an away basketball game for the girls' team, and a home basketball game for the boys, were cancelled.

McKeesport Area School District has closed all campuses for Friday and Saturday, and cancelled activities.

Penn State Greater Allegheny has cancelled all activities for Friday and Saturday, as well as Saturday classes, a spokesperson said. In addition, campus shuttles will not be running.

"It's kind of hard to believe that this so-called 'arctic blast' is coming through when it's 66 degrees right now," McKeesport Mayor Michael Cherepko said. "But it's coming, and we're trying to hope for the best and prepare for the worst."

McKeesport and other areas experienced minor flooding Friday morning.

Up to three inches of rain have fallen in the Mon-Yough area over the past two days, according to the National Weather Service in Moon Twp.

Although a flash flood warning was issued Friday, the weather service said both the Monongahela River at Elizabeth and the Youghiogheny River at Sutersville are expected to crest on Saturday afternoon, but below flood stage.

McKeesport public works crews were out scooping mud and debris from the eastbound lanes of West Fifth Avenue in lower 10th Ward after water runoff turned the front yard of a home into a small waterfall.

Crews also worked Friday morning to clear the flooded intersection of 12th Avenue and Walnut Street in the Third Ward. Traffic was detoured over Market Street for part of the day.

Mudslides were reported in Murrysville and Pittsburgh.

A district spokesman for the state Department of Transportation said most of their reported road closures were in Washington County. Emergency management officials said that locally, Peters Creek Road in Jefferson Hills and Courtney Hill Road in Union Twp., Washington County, were both closed due to flooding.

The water on area roadways is causing concern for both weather officials and public works crews.

A weather service spokesperson said that freezing rain and rapidly dropping temperatures will result in a "flash freeze" on local roads this afternoon and evening.

Temperatures in the Mon-Yough area are expected to drop into the 30s Friday afternoon, and then into the teens by Saturday morning, with wind chills in the single digits.

Ice accumulations could be significant enough to damage branches and power lines, the weather service said.

Steve Cowan, district spokeswoman for PennDOT, said the agency was advising motorists to avoid driving tonight if possible.

Roads that look wet may be icy, she said. Salt, anti-skid materials and ice melting chemicals are in "good supply" in District 11, Cowan said, and crews are expected to work throughout the night.

Cherepko said the city is prepared for the storm, but asked residents to be patient while the public works department attempts to tackle the ice and snow.

"This is just winter weather in Western Pennsylvania," he said. "We're trying to make sure we're ready for whatever Mother Nature throws at us."

Originally published January 12, 2018.

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