Minor flood forecast for the Lehigh River as Ida precipitation approaches


The Lehigh River at Walnutport is expected to peak above the minor flood level on Thursday, as the remnants of Hurricane Ida flood the Lehigh Valley area, according to the National Weather Service.

At Lehigh Valley International Airport, showers and thunderstorms are expected to start Tuesday evening and continue through Thursday. The meteorological service estimated the risk of precipitation at 80% Tuesday evening, 100% Wednesday and Wednesday evening and 60% Thursday.

Total precipitation at the airport outside of Allentown is forecast to be 4.2 to 6.5 inches during the storm.

Flash flood watch remains in effect Wednesday morning through Thursday morning for parts of Pennsylvania and New Jersey, including Lehigh, Northampton and Warren counties.

“The remnants of Hurricane Ida will pass through the region from Wednesday to Thursday morning,” the watch updated Tuesday afternoon said. “The periods of heavy rain and scattered thunderstorms associated with this low will result in widespread rain of 4 to 6 inches, with locally higher amounts likely exceeding 6 inches by Thursday morning. Combined with previous wet conditions, this will lead to many cases of flash floods, some of which can be significant.

“Flooding of streams, streams, urban areas and poor drainage areas are likely in the wettest areas. Water is likely to cover roads, especially in low areas. Moderate to major flooding is possible along some major rivers, and roads and structures near these rivers may be inundated. “

The weather service Mid Atlantic River Forecast Center At 6 p.m. Tuesday, flooding was forecast at 55 locations in the mid-Atlantic region.

At Walnutport, the Lehigh River was expected to rise and then peak around 1 p.m. Thursday at 9.2 feet, above the 8-foot minor flood level but below the 12-foot mark for moderate flooding. In Bethlehem, the river crest is forecast Thursday at 8 p.m. at 14.8 feet, above the action level at 12 feet but below the minor flood level of 16 feet. The action phase justifies “a certain type of mitigation measures in view of possible significant flooding”, according to the meteorological service.

The Delaware River is expected to peak at 19.3 feet around 2 a.m. on Friday, approaching the 20-foot action stage in Easton and reaching the 15-foot action stage in Riegelsville without reaching the 22-foot minor flood stage. in the Borough of Bucks County. .

Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf on Tuesday signed a disaster emergency proclamation in anticipation of heavy rainfall and widespread flooding expected from the remnants of the tropical depression.

“This dangerous storm continues to have devastating effects in the south and as it heads into Pennsylvania we expect significant precipitation statewide,” Wolf said. “This proclamation will allow our emergency preparedness teams to provide all necessary support throughout the storm and its aftermath.

“I urge Pennsylvanians to monitor local weather and traffic conditions before making plans and preparing for possible flooding.”

The American Red Cross offered the following information and advice ahead of the storm:


A WATCH flash flood / flood means that a flood or flash flood is possible.

A Flood / Flash Flood WARNING means that a flood or flash flood is already happening or will occur soon and you need to take immediate action.

To prepare

Assemble an emergency preparedness kit that includes: water, non-perishable food, battery-powered radio (NOAA weather radio), extra batteries, first aid kit, cell phones, and chargers.

A home escape plan that includes your pets.

Stay informed of risks and response plans in your community.

Make sure each family member knows how to reconnect if you are separated in an emergency.

Keep insurance policies, documents and other valuables in a safe. You may need quick and easy access to these documents. Keep them in a safe place that is less likely to be damaged in a flood. Take photos on a phone and keep copies of important documents and files on a USB drive that you can take with you on your house or car keys.

Download the free Red Cross emergency app for weather alerts, open Red Cross shelter locations, and safety tips (available for iPhone or Android).

Prepare your house

If you live in a flood plain, elevate and strengthen your home to reduce the chance of damage during a flood.

Ask a professional for:

  • Raise your furnace, water heater, and electrical panel to floors less likely to be flooded. A water heater in good condition can be your best source of fresh water after a flood.
  • Install check valves in the plumbing to prevent flood water from backing up your home’s drains. (As a last resort, when flooding threatens, use large plugs or plugs to plug showers, tubs or basins.)
  • Construct barriers such as dikes, berms, and flood walls to prevent flood water from entering the building (if permitted by local building codes).
  • Seal basement walls with waterproofing products to prevent crack infiltration.

Use sandbags in the event of a flood:

  • It takes two people about an hour to fill and place 100 sandbags, creating a wall one foot high and 20 feet long.
  • Make sure you have enough sand, burlap or plastic bags, shovels, sturdy aids, and time to place them correctly.
  • If a flood is expected, some communities will offer free sandbags to residents. Make sure to watch or listen to the news so that you can access these resources.

Prepare your pets

Prepare a pet emergency kit for your pets.

Bring your pets inside and have direct control over them. Make sure your pet emergency kit is ready to go in the event of an evacuation.

If you have cattle

Make sure outbuildings, pastures or corrals are protected in the same way as your home.

If you are installing or modifying fences, consider placing them so that your animals can move to higher ground in the event of a flood.

Consider a preventive evacuation of your animals, especially large or numerous animals. Waiting until the last minute could be fatal for them and dangerous for you.

Just before a flood

Listen to local radio, NOAA radio, or TV stations for the latest news and updates.

Be prepared to evacuate quickly and know your routes and destinations.

Check your emergency kit and replenish any missing or insufficient items, especially drugs or other medical supplies. Keep it close.

Fill plastic bottles with clean water for drinking.

Fill tubs and sinks with water to flush the toilet or wash the floor or clothing.

Fill your car’s gas tank in case you need to evacuate.

Bring your personal belongings, such as patio furniture, inside.

Turn off propane tanks to reduce the risk of fire.

Move your furniture and valuables to the upper floors of your home.

Turn off utilities if instructed to do so to avoid damaging your home or the community. If you turn off your gas, a professional is required to turn it on again.

Unplug small appliances to reduce potential damage from power surges that can occur.

During a Flood – Staying Safe Indoors

Turn off the power and water supply if instructed by local authorities.

Boil tap water until the water sources have been declared safe.

Avoid contact with flood water. It may be contaminated with sewage or contain dangerous insects or animals.

Keep listening to local radio, NOAA radio, or TV stations for the latest news and updates.

Do not use gas or electric appliances that have been flooded.

Throw away all food that comes in contact with flood water.

During a Flood – Staying Safe Outside

Do not walk, swim, or drive in flood water. Only six inches of fast-flowing water can knock you over and two feet will float a car.

If you get caught on a flooded road with rapidly rising water, quickly get out of the car and move to higher ground.

Do not walk on beaches or river banks.

Do not allow children to play in or near flood water.

Avoid contact with flood water. It may be contaminated with sewage or contain dangerous insects or animals.

Stay away from areas prone to flooding. Underpasses, hollows, low points, canyons, washouts, etc. can fill with water.

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Kurt Bresswein can be reached at kbresswein@lehighvalleylive.com.


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