Flash Flood in USA on July 12 2019 05:06 AM (UTC).
The heavy rains that pounded Western Pennsylvania Thursday caused widespread flooding and hazards that shut down major thoroughfares throughout the region. The southbound lanes of Route 28 between the Harmar and RIDC Park exit closed for several hours because of flooding. A preschool in Westmoreland County was evacuated when a large sinkhole opened up nearby. A single lane of Route 28 reopened by about 6 p.m., PennDOT spokesman Steve Cown said. Shortly after 7 p.m., southbound Route 28 reopened to unrestricted traffic between the 40th Street and 31st Street bridges, Cowan said. The National Weather Service had recorded at least 2.31 inches at Pittsburgh International Airport as of about 8 p.m., falling short of the record of 2.96 inches set in 1971. NWS also reported Thursday's rainfall puts the airport's total at 30.02 inches, the second wettest year ever to-date and 0.67 inches ahead of the record-breaking pace set last year. But some places in the region logged more than 3 inches of rain. A storm spotter measured 4.35 inches in Mt. Washington, the weather service said. Most of the heaviest bouts of rain fell south of the Pittsburgh area. The weather service also warned people from central Brooke County to the city of West Middleton to "take cover" due to an incoming thunderstorm and damaging winds around 70 mph moving through the area late Thursday. "If you don't have to drive, stay off the roads," Pittsburgh's Public Safety Department tweeted earlier in the day. Allegheny County reported Thursday morning that two vehicles were stuck on Washington Boulevard in Pittsburgh. The road has floodgates in case of such situations. Public safety spokeswoman Cara Cruz said the floodgates were down and urged drivers to avoid the area. "Drivers should be reminded to never drive around any barriers that are in place and, if at all possible, avoid this roadway until flooding subsides," Cruz said in a statement. Washington Boulevard in Pittsburgh reopened shortly after 8:30 p.m., Department of Public Safety officials said. Southbound traffic on Route 28 was at a standstill for much of the afternoon. Motorists used on-ramps to get off the highway. O'Hara declared a state of emergency because of the heavy rain and flooding. Route 28 southbound between the 31st Street Bridge and East Ohio Street exits was closed. The Delafield Avenue exit on Route 28 was also reported closed. Delafield Avenue was closed but crews were able to open access to UPMC St. Margaret hospital in Aspinwall from the street. Access to UPMC St. Margaret hospital in Aspinwall from St. Margaret Drive was blocked due to flooding on Freeport Road, according to Allegheny County's twitter feed. Stephanie Stanley, a spokeswoman for UPMC, said the hospital remains fully staffed and operational and the emergency department is open. Ambulances are able to access the hospital using Delafield Avenue. "Patients with scheduled outpatient procedures are being notified as some services may be delayed or rescheduled," Stanley said in a statement. Some patients were told to park at the nearby and walk to the hospital, according to police. Elsie Bonazza of Cheswick was already late for an appointment for her hip when she pulled into the KeyBank parking lot near the hospital. "I don't want to leave my car here. I'm not sure where else to go. Are they going to tell me?" Bonazza asked. Veronica Rozic, of Saxonburg, left an hour early for UPMC St. Margaret to make her doctor's appointment for a follow-up on her foot fracture. Walking on crutches, Rozic was not parking and walking. Instead, police rerouted here to Route 28, then toward the Highland Park Bridge where she exited at the border of Aspinwall and Sharpsburg. From there, she accessed the hospital through the entrance on Delafield, she said. Aspinwall work crews had shovelled dirt from the intersection of Freeport Road and Delafield Avenue, allowing traffic from Sharpsburg to enter Delafield and the hospital.