Warm spell causes some flooding as ice melts
Dave Porada pulls his canoe across Neshannock Creek near a flooded Coconut Drive. His house is to the left, where he has lived since the mid-1970s. He said, "You lie in a river valley -- you live with it or you leave." Mr. Porada said about 12 or 13 houses were affected by the dam of ice, but only six houses have year-round residents. He said his basement is completely flooded.
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Western Pennsylvania will continue to see a pattern of erratic temperatures this week as the warm spell that embraced the region gives way to storms and cold in the days ahead.
Already, the unseasonably warm weekend has caused flooding along Neshannock Creek in Lawrence County, as ice upstream broke up only to create a jam downstream.
Dave Porada, 61, who lives alone on Algoma Lane, is one of a half-dozen year-round residents on the small country lane just outside New Castle. More than two dozen other houses are summer cottages.
The flooding first was noticed around 3:50 p.m. Sunday.
"We thought it was clear because downstream looked OK," Mr. Porada said. "When it clogged downstream, it sent water up 3 feet in about five minutes.
"I've been here 30 years and it's never been like that. Usually it takes hours or days. We barely got our cars out and drove them to high ground. It was 8 inches deep when we moved the cars. It was knee-deep when we got back."
Mr. Porada's basement flooded. The rest of the homes have no basements, and though water crept up to those houses, it did not make it inside.
"It's nice 99.9 percent of the time. Then you get a week like this and it messes things up," Mr. Porada said.
The ice has not moved since Sunday afternoon, and the water is receding because of the cold temperatures Sunday night, which stopped the run-off into the creek.
"If it starts to move, they better look out," he said of property owners downstream of his home.
New Castle is about 5 miles downstream, and the creek runs through the city's downtown.
"By then it's usually whipped through a couple valleys and squeezes through [without flooding]," Mr. Porada said.
The temperatures, however, will dip after showers stretch across the area today.
Brad Rehak, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service, said a strong cold front moving through the region tomorrow night will bring gusty winds, a chance of thunderstorms and a sharp drop in temperatures Thursday.
"The system coming down from Canada is going to strengthen over the Great Lakes, and then a cold front is going to whip through," Mr. Rehak said.
Though the conditions are worth watching, he said, they aren't unusual for this time of year.
"You get warm outbreaks and usually they end with windy cold fronts, and that's what is going to happen this time," he said. "The strongest winds will be [tomorrow] night, early Thursday morning, when we'll see temperatures go probably through the 30s and into the 20s."
"It could be pretty breezy behind that front," AccuWeather meteorologist Andrew Ulrich said. "We're going to have a couple rounds. [Tomorrow] night, we're going to have winds gusting up to 30, 35 miles per hour. I don't know if it will cause any destruction, but it'll blow trash cans around."
First Published February 10, 2009 12:16 am