Rain puts region under flash flood watch

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Much of Western Pennsylvania was under a flash flood watch through this morning, with the heaviest rainfall falling Thursday evening.

The National Weather Service in Pittsburgh, based in Moon, issued a flood advisory Thursday for the Ohio River, which could rise to 18 feet by 8 a.m. today, the stage at which the river begins to spill onto the Mon Parking Wharf. That projected rise prompted the Pittsburgh Parking Authority to close the wharf today.

The river could crest at more than 22 feet, also forcing water onto the 10th Street Bypass, weather service meteorologist Lee Hendricks said. The projection is for the river to crest at 22.5 feet on Saturday morning.

"We're hopeful that it won't get that high," he said. "That's a significant disruption for our community."

The weather service said as much as 4.5 inches of rain fell near Weirton, W.Va., with most areas receiving 1 to 2.5 inches by Thursday night.

Another half-inch to an inch was expected to fall overnight east of the city, with rain ceasing by morning. Rain could be scattered in the afternoon today, weather service meteorologist Mike Fries said.

Minor flooding in Baldwin and Pittsburgh was reported Thursday night in areas with poor drainage, he said.

The intense storm system was moving slowly from the south-central Plains to the east and northeastern parts of the country and combining with a strong flow of moisture from the Gulf of Mexico, causing heavy rain, Mr. Hendricks said.

Parts of north-central West Virginia and eastern Ohio were also under the flood watch.

Molly Born contributed. Lexi Belculfine: lbelculfine@post-gazette.com or 412-263-1878. Twitter: @LexiBelc. First Published May 15, 2014 8:18 AM

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