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Ida hits hard across the region

Tropical depression Ida left substantial flooding, road closures and school delays in its wake.

Generally in our region, about 4 to 5 inches of rain started Tuesday night and continued through to Wednesday evening, according to Tyler Roys, a senior meteorologist with AccuWeather.

Roys said that in Lehighton, about 4½ inches of rain was largely reported across the area. He noted that farther south along the northeast extension, places saw upward of 6 to 6½ inches of rain.

Some residents also reported localized amounts above the 5-inch mark.


Lentz Trail in Jim Thorpe was shut down due to the storm.

According to a post on Facebook, as of 5:30 a.m. Blue Mountain on Route 309 was still closed, while Route 895 was closed from Andreas to Lizard Creek Tavern. It was also noted to avoid Ben Salem Road, as trucks were using it as a detour and getting stuck.

Palmerton Police Department posted that the 900 block of Delaware Avenue was closed due to flooding, and cautioned to avoid the area and take alternate routes such as Little Gap Road and over the mountain into Lehigh Township or Fireline Road.

Weatherly Area School District was closed, Pleasant Valley School District was operating as a remote day for students, while Panther Valley School District, Marian, St. Jerome Regional, Tamaqua and the Carbon Career & Technical Institute were on a two-hour delay.

Jim Thorpe Mayor Michael Sofranko declared a disaster emergency in the borough.

PennDOT reduced speeds to 55 mph on Interstate 80 between Interstate 99 and the New Jersey border, and Interstate 81 between Route 39 and Interstate 80 early Wednesday afternoon.

The Schuylkill County Courthouse closed at 3 p.m. Wednesday because of the inclement weather. Schuylkill County District Attorney Michael O’Pake said he received an email from Linda Dietrich, chief clerk about the closure.

Potential river/stream flooding

River and stream flooding continues to be a threat, and is already underway in some areas.

The National Weather Service has issued river flood warnings as follows:

• Lehigh River at Bethlehem, through this evening.

• Lehigh River at Walnutport, through Friday morning.

• Lehigh River at Lehighton, from this morning to this afternoon.

• Little Lehigh at Allentown, from this morning to this afternoon.

The Nesquehoning Creek, which is normally shallow, was rushing this morning, spilling over its banks in some areas and nearly coming over the Nesquehoning-New Columbus foot bridge.

A resident watching the water at the foot bridge commented that he hasn’t seen the creek like this since 1972 when Hurricane Agnes hit the area.

Power outages

Carbon County Emergency Management Director Mark Nalesnik said early this morning that many residents continued to feel the aftereffects of tropical depression Ida.

“There’s still a lot of road closures due to roadway flooding,” Nalesnik said. “The USGS River Gauge in Lehighton Borough peaked at 14.2 feet during the night, and is currently down to 9.8 feet, which is below flood stage.”

Nalesnik noted that just before 9 a.m., there were currently 1,092 PPL customers without power, and added at one point last evening that number was at 3,000.

“There were a lot of basement pumping details by the volunteer fire departments,” he said. “Rainfall amounts that I measured here at our EMA building was 6 inches for this particular storm.”

Nalesnik warned motorists to be careful when driving.

“They’re going to come across closed roadways; do not go around a road closed barrier or sign because it’s closed for a reason. It’s for public safety,” he said. “There was one occurrence during this storm that I was aware of where someone drove around a barrier and ended up off the roadway.”

Nalesnik stressed the importance of using generators correctly during a power outage.

“In a lot of power outages, people will typically use portable generators for electrical power; it’s very important to use those properly,” he said. “They have to be outdoors because they give off carbon monoxide. Every year, there’s a fatality or two where people use them in a confined area and create a problem for themselves. If you’re using a generator, be sure that it’s outside and used properly.”

Roys cautioned what to watch for concerning any river that had major or minor flooding going on.

“In large part, any rivers that have gone over their banks in large part are receding right now,” he said. “There’s going to be a continuation throughout the day.”

Humidity breaks

Roys said one good thing that resulted from the rainstorm is that the humidity has finally broken.

“The big thing that follows this storm is that it is refreshing outside,” Roys said. “The humidity is gone that has plagued much of August.”

As we move through the Labor Day weekend, Roys said temperatures in the afternoon are going to be largely in the 70s, with the chance on Labor Day it reaches 80.

“It’s going to be a comfortable Labor Day weekend, which would fall in the afternoon between 5-10 degrees below (normal daytime highs this year),” he said. “Usually this time of year, (highs are) around 81 degrees.”

Roys noted the only real chance for any rain in the days ahead could come maybe Sunday with a chance for thunderstorms in the afternoon, though very spotty in nature.

“It’s definitely open your window-type of weather, both the daytime and evening weather,” he said.

Water from the Nesquehoning Creek rushes under the Nesquehoning-New Columbus foot bridge early Thursday morning. The waters overflowed some of the banks of the creek during the Wednesday's storm. AMY MILLER/TIMES NEWS
An estimated half a foot of rain on Wednesday sent the Little Schuylkill River in Tamaqua roaring high and filling the expanse between its containment walls, seen here from the Cedar Street Bridge. DONALD R. SERFASS/SPECIAL TO THE TIMES NEWS
A large part of a tree came down at the intersection of Center and Front streets on the east side of Jim Thorpe on Wednesday. JAMES LOGUE JR./SPECIAL TO THE TIMES NEWS