Rain is relentless
By JOHN RISHEL and Bob Rolley
Rain, rain, go away.
That’s the sentiment on the minds of many people.
It seems the showers won’t let up, however.
The National Weather Service (NWS) yesterday issued a flood warning for Beech Creek and all of Clinton County and surrounding areas because of relentless rain and the anticipation of scattered showers and thunderstorms over the next several days.
Keystone Central School District closed its schools today in anticipation of roads being closed and homes being flooded from three days (going on four) of incessant rain.
That also meant the closing of private schools that rely on KCSD transportation.
The announcement came just after 6 p.m. last night, just four hours after Superintendent Dr. Alan J. Lonoconus announced KCSD planned to reopen its buildings.
All schools have been closed since last Wednesday after mold was found in two buildings.
But the superintendent was mindful that the bad weather would have an impact.
“Unfortunately, we are now monitoring water levels and potential flooding in our district. The National Weather Service has issued a flood warning beginning today through Thursday,” he said.
Findings of airborne mold in two classrooms at Woodward Elementary and Central Mountain Middle schools last week led to the district closing all schools. Dr. Lonoconus attributed the mold to wet, humid conditions over the past three weeks.
The majority of schools in the district also lack air-conditioning.
This past weekend, Lonoconus said, a professional remediation company cleaned the two classrooms that had elevated levels of mold in the air and, after retesting the air quality, the district cleared the rooms for occupancy.
Scheduling for athletic activities and events will be up to coaches and the athletic department, Lonoconus said.
So talk about relentless: Did you know that the NWS reporting station at Williamsport — as of Sunday — had recorded 46.94 inches of rain year to date?
That compares to 28.25 inches as the historical normal through Sept. 9.
That’s nearly twice the amount of rainfall as “normal.”
Meteorologist David Martin with NWS said over the past seven days (not included Monday), Lock Haven had received 3.75 inches of rain, but he conceded it seems like more.
The Renovo area got 3.22 inches, State College area, 3.60 inches, and Williamsport area 1.70 inches.
In comparison, from Saturday to Monday afternoon, the Harrisburg area was hit with 3.24 inches of rain.
In fact, 2.54 inches of rain fell in Harrisburg on Sunday alone, setting a new record there that date, Martin noted.
All throughout Central Pennsylvania, flooding in low-lying areas was likely today.
As of Monday afternoon, Fox Road in Crawford Township in eastern Clinton County was closed until further notice.
Later in the day, a low-lying section of Country Club Drive at Millbrook Playhouse was covered with water.
But many roads in the region were seeing water pouring across them at varying volumes.
Local, county and PennDOT officials, along with state police, urged motorist to exercise extreme caution when approaching water on roads.
The flood warning, meanwhile, particularly emphasizes flooding of Bald Eagle Creek near Beech Creek.
Reached Monday, William Frantz, the Emergency Management Agency coordinator for the Clinton County Department of Emergency Services, said, “We anticipate Bald Eagle Creek to go over the flood stage.”
Frantz said the Department of Emergency Services is prepared to act as needed.
Bald Eagle Creek
Later Monday, Kevin Fanning, director of the county Department of Emergency Services, said his agency was particularly worried about areas surrounding the Bald Eagle Creek and the West Branch of the Susquehanna River water basin.
As of approximately 4 p.m. Monday, Bald Eagle Creek water levels were at 12.23 feet.
The creek was forecast to crest near 12.9 feet by this morning.
At 13 feet, homes in the cottage area along Bald Eagle Creek can become isolated by high water.
As of 4 p.m. Monday, the West Branch of the Susquehanna River was observed at just under 12 feet at Lock Haven.
Though the crest is a moving target due to rainfall, the river was — as of last night — projected to reach a height of 21.8 feet here today.
People with boats and campers all along the river rushed to pull their assets out of harm’s way starting this past weekend.
There was a steady stream of traffic on Farrandsville Road.
turn around, don’t drown
Everyone is urged to never drive cars through flooded areas.
Most deaths that occur during flooding are related to vehicles trying to cross flooded roadways.
The City of Lock Haven is prepared to close the levee’s “Closure 3,” which is at railroad tracks near Piper Airport and Route 220, reported City Manager Gregory J. Wilson. Preparations for Closure 3 must begin when the river reaches 22 feet, he said, and with the forecast right around that mark, the city decided to start getting ready. The closure must be walled off when the river reaches 24 feet, he said.
Preparations to close Veterans Bridge at Jay Street are at start at 24 feet, but as of Monday evening, the city did not believe the river was likely to reach that high.
The other two closures, at Lock Haven University and in Bald Eagle Township near Avery and Croda industries, do not need to be addressed unless the water reaches 31 feet, he added.
When Frantz was asked about Hurricane Florence hitting land later in the week, he said, “We are not thinking that far out yet; we are watching the reports and hoping for a turn.”
The department’s staff is focused on the here and now, and will make arrangements later on in the week if necessary, he said.
Fanning added, “There is a lot of uncertainty coming out of the reports regarding the hurricane.”
The hurricane is expected to hit the Carolinas on Thursday morning, then throughout the afternoon, with the earliest time expected being Wednesday night. The wind forces of Florence have rapidly intensified over the course of Monday afternoon, officially being labeled a Category 4 Hurricane, with maximum sustained winds nearing 130 miles per hour.
Martin said, “Hurricane Florence could bring more rain toward the end of the week, but it may come in the form of scattered showers, the bulk of which are forecasted to fall south of the Pennsylvania border.”
Meanwhile, the preliminary weather forecast for the region says rain should taper on this morning under cloudy skies.
The high temperature today should hit 76. The mercury tonight will drop to 63.
Wednesday will bring a chance of more showers and even thunderstorms, Martin said, though mostly after 2 p.m.
It’s the same for Wednesday night.
Thursday’s highlight should be more mild temperatures, with a high of 82 forecast amid a chance of showers.
And with Hurricane Florence hovering, a chance of showers exists through the week.
Roads closed last night
– Fox Road at Davidson Road in Crawford Township.
– 1200 block of Long Run Road in Lamar Township.
– Marsh Creek Rd from Route 150 to Little Marsh Creek Road in Liberty Township.
– Keating Mountain Road in East Keating Township.
– Hyner River Road in Chapman and Grugan Township.
– Reese Road in Chapman Township.
– Fishing Creek Road at Heltman Road in Lamar Township.
– Stewart Road in Dunnstable Township.