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Heavy rains may ease area drought conditions

Published September 30. 2010 05:00PM

Pennsylvania may experience some relief from extra dry weather conditions as a strong storm system heads up the coast today.

The storm system is a result of a slow moving upper trough and a stalled frontal boundary combining with the remnants of Tropical Storm Nicole.

A flood watch has been issued by the National Weather Service for much of Northeastern Pennsylvania until Friday afternoon as the storm passes through the region today and tonight.

The watch states that "tropical low pressure moving into the central mid Atlantic area early this morning will move up along the east coast today ... and as the low extends far to the south, it will affect our area tonight and into Friday. Tropical moisture associated with this system will bring heavy rain to the region."

According to the National Weather Service, the storm could drop about one to two inches of rain across the area throughout the day and is expected to continue into the evening, potentially dropping up to an additional three or more inches of rain by the time this storm passes.

The American Red Cross has issued a statement, urging residents to be prepared during the storm by listening to the local radio or TV stations for updated flood information, stay away from streams and rivers that have overflowed their banks, don't drive on flooded roadways, assemble an emergency preparedness kit, and organize an evacuation plan.

The storm could be looked at as a major relief to the area, which has experienced extremely dry conditions over the summer months, with precipitation deficits around 5.6 inches below normal. Carbon County was one of 24 counties named in a drought warning earlier this month.

Last Thursday, Commissioner Wayne Nothstein provided an update to the water sources in the area.

During the commissioners' meeting, he noted that Beltzville Lake was down 15 feet as a result of dam releases that are needed to keep the salt water levels down in the rivers; as well as evaporation.

As a result of the large deficit, boat launches at the lake were shut down for the season.

Nothstein said Mauch Chunk Lake was down 54 inches from the normal levels and was dropping on average about a half inch a day.

The Lehigh River was operating at 169 cubic feet per second or 76,000 gallons per minute. That was down significantly from the normal flow of 167,000 gallons per minute.

Today, Mark Nalesnik, Carbon County Emergency Management Agency coordinator, reminded residents that extra care is needed in heavy rain situations.

"With this much rain, the possibility of flash flooding is there, so please monitor the area, listen to the radio and TV reports and heed all warnings," he said.

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