Heavy rainfall to bring flooding of waterways

A fisherman has the river to himself as he braves the rain Sunday near the Hepburn Street entrance to the Susquehanna River. KATELYN HIBBARD/Sun-Gazette

All eyes are on the West Branch of the Susquehanna River and its tributaries.

Rain, which has not stopped and is primarily caused by the remnants of Tropical Storm Gordon, will continue tonight after pounding the city and region Sunday with up to 2 inches of precipitation.

Flash flood watches are up throughout the region with up to 2 more inches of rain expected today through tonight, bringing about 4 inches of rainfall for the total event, according to Michael Colbert, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in State College.

Today, residents can look for periods of rain and a possible thunderstorm.

The amount of rainfall since Sunday is expected to cause the river at Williamsport to crest at just below the 20-foot flood stage Tuesday evening, Colbert said.

Give or take, with a margin of error, the river should crest at 19.6 feet, he said.

That height means the levee’s nine pump stations will be running, said Adam Winder, general manager of the city streets and parks department and flood control.

For the department it will be all-hands-on-deck, he said.

Sunday night, with manpower needed for eight-hour shifts around the clock until the water level in the river gets to 11 feet, he said.

The city has two pump stations that operate automatically, leaving seven that have to be monitored by a presence.

As of Sunday night, the river was at 2.63 feet and it is going to be cresting 17 feet more, he said.

When the river goes beyond the 19-foot level, there is usually flooding in the area where the Hiawatha Paddlewheel Riverboat is docket to the west of the city and there also may be flooding in the area below the Maynard Street Bridge and near BB&T Bank Park at Bowman Field, Winder said.

The level of Grafius Run also will need to be watched closely, he said.

The department can check on the water level using automatic gauges and cameras that can show officials the depth.

The flooding near the historic ballfield depends a lot on the level of Lycoming Creek, Winder said.

Temperatures today also are expected to be cool, with a high near 65 degrees. The winds will be kicking up at 13 to 16 mph.

There is a chance of a thunderstorm before 2 a.m., then a chance of continued showers.

For Tuesday, there is a chance of showers, mainly before 8 a.m. It will be a little warmer than Monday, with a high near 71 with less wind.

Conditions improve on Wednesday, with mostly cloudly skies and a high near 76.

But the rainfall picks back up Thursday with scattered showers and thunderstorms possible. The warmer trend also continues with temperatures approaching 80 degrees. Chance of precipitation is 40 percent.

Friday doesn’t appear to be much better outside, with scattered showers and thunderstorms and a high of 78.

It could dry out by Friday night for high school football with a low of 64.

The weekend, too, looks pleasant this far out. It should be partly sunny each day with highs of 77 Saturday and 75 Sunday.

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