Flash flooding sweeps into the Pittsburgh area and spurs numerous water rescues

PITTSBURGH (AP) — Flash flooding caused by relentless heavy rains that soaked western Pennsylvania spurred numerous rescues and evacuations in the region, but no injuries were reported.

The National Weather Service said nearly 3 inches (7.6 centimeters) of rain fell in a short time late Thursday afternoon and evening in parts of Allegheny County. The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reported that some southern sections of the county got more than 4 inches as they got stuck under heavier bands within the storm system.

Rescue crews in the Pittsburgh suburb of Oakdale used watercraft to evacuate or rescue some residents, while officials in nearby Etna issued an emergency evacuation notice as Pine Creek breeched its banks at over 14 feet (4.3 meters).

For the second time in a week, flood warnings were issued in West Virginia along the Ohio River, which was forecast to crest in the Pittsburgh area at above 25 feet late Friday into Saturday — well into flood stage. The river was at nearly 22 feet late Friday morning, a rapid rise from about 16.5 feet on Thursday morning, before the heavy rains moved into the region.

In Parkersburg, a portion of a loose barge struck a CSX railroad trestle spanning the swollen Little Kanawha River. Video from WTAP-TV showed the barge made contact with the trestle Friday morning as a train was moving across it before a towboat brought the barge until control. CSX was inspecting the trestle for structural damage. The Little Kanawha flows into the Ohio River.

Parts of New England were also dealing with flooding as more rain came early Friday. Strong winds were also possible throughout the region for most of the day.

Flood warnings were also in effect in several towns south of Hartford along the Connecticut River, which was expected to swell above 8 feet (2.4 meters), a foot above flood stage. The weather service advised boaters to be prepared for a period of swift river flows.

In West Virginia, roads in at least 20 counties remained impassable Friday due to flooding from heavy rains Thursday night, according to the state Department of Transportation. Crews had to clear storm drains by hand that were overwhelmed by runoff on one section of Interstate 64 in Charleston.

In Michigan, Consumers Energy reported about 67,000 customers without power in the western part of the state Friday night due to high winds. Meanwhile, thousands of residents in southeastern New York who lost power when severe storms moved through the region late Thursday had been restored by late Friday afternoon. But roughly 7,600 outages were still reported in Pennsylvania and another 5,000 outages in Maine and New Hampshire, according to poweroutage.us.

The severe weather came after other storms socked the Southeast this week, prompting a few tornado warnings and causing flash flooding and at least one death.

An EF-1 tornado struck in Wilkesboro, North Carolina, on Thursday night, damaging and knocking down trees, including one that fell on a house, the weather service’s Blacksburg, Virginia, office confirmed in a statement Friday.

The tornado with estimated peak winds of 105 to 110 mph (169 to 177 kph) touched down around 6:45 p.m. and its path was about 2 miles (3.22 kilometers) long and 300 yards (274.32 meters) wide, the weather service said. No deaths or injuries were reported.

The Associated Press