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2018 not quite the wettest year on record

This has been a record year for rainfall, and with it came plenty of flooding.

Williamsport Regional Airport saw 64.21 inches of liquid percipitation as of Dec. 6, and according to Craig Evanego, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service office in State College, 2018 is headed for the books as being the second wettest on record.

The record to break was set in 2011, which saw a whopping 70.6 inches.

January and February started out strong, both bringing more than average precipitation. March was particularly kind with below average rainfall of 2.13 inches, making it the driest month of the year.

It wasn’t until July that the region hit what Evanego called a “rough stretch” with a massive pouring of 11.99 inches. That stretch lasted through August and finally tapered off near the end of September.

With the heavy summer rains came flood after flood, striking at different parts of the region. Bradford County was hit particularly hard, and for many weeks Route 87 north was closed by a rock slide, making it difficult to drive to Sullivan County.

The slide happened mid-September on Route 87 just north of Dunwoody Road in Lycoming County. PennDOT had to do emergency repairs to reopen the road and had hoped to keep the road open until more permanent repairs could be made. By Nov. 9, the agency was able to open the road to one lane.

Meanwhile, a $1.8 million project to build a retaining wall at the slide is underway and is expected to be completed by August, according to Dave Thompson, PennDOT’s District 3-0 community relations director.

Overall, 2018 saw more than 400 damaged state-owned roads, Thompson said. Some were closed short-term, but a handful were closed long-term. As the year comes to a close, five roads remain closed in the district — three in Bradford County and two in Sullivan County.

Thompson said an estimated $57 million in weather-related damages occurred over the year district-wide, not surprising given the number of flood events in late summer.

On one day in mid-August, an intense rainfall dropped amounts ranging from 5 to 7 inches across the region, leading to many cases of flooding and numerous calls for emergency help.

Among the affected locations, people in about 25 properties in the Glen Mawr area were told to shelter in place rather than drive through water on roadways.

“If you see water today, turn around and don’t drown,” John Yingling, county director of public safety, advised people at the time.

A portion of Picture Rocks was evacuated as Muncy Creek flowed over its banks. Others faced flooding in Watsontown, Hughesville and Forksville.

And that was just one of many days that saw flooding. The Sun-Gazette published stories related to flooding in the region on an almost weekly basis during the prolonged rainy season.

Fortunately, it didn’t continue all fall, and December marked the end of the rainy season, according to Evanego.

“With the exception of March, June and October, every month this year saw above-average precipitation.”

It seems the rest of this year will be much tamer compared to previous months.

“You can expect December to be warmer than normal, but the precipitation to be average,” Evanego said. He also indicated the same for January and February, easing the region into a happier new year.

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