Powerful storms rolled through Western Pennsylvania Friday afternoon, causing widespread flooding in Washington and other parts of the county.
Two downpours hammered the city about noon and brought nearly an inch of rain that flooded low-lying areas and prompted several main roads to be closed.
Traffic backed up across Washington as emergency responders closed major arteries – including Jefferson Avenue, West Chestnut Street, Park Avenue and East Maiden Street – and diverted traffic onto secondary roads. Catfish Creek overflowed its banks and water poured into Washington & Jefferson College’s Cameron Stadium, submerging the entire artificial playing surface.
“It was like a monsoon,” Washington fire Chief Linn Brookman said of the downpours.
Brookman said some buildings around the city sustained minor flooding, and at least one car had to be towed from the high water on Park Avenue. However, Washington County emergency dispatchers said they did not notice an abundance of crashes from the rain.
Brookman said his department responded to a tree down on McKinley Avenue in the city, and motorists reported a fallen tree blocking traffic on Zediker Station Road in South Strabane Township near Route 40. Other areas also received heavy downpours. The National Weather Service reported that Avella got 1.5 inches of rain.
Meanwhile, the heavy rain not only brought flooding to the streets, but also damaged the Washington city building. Mayor Brenda Davis said water from the roof or gutters overflowed and poured down some of the walls inside the building.
“We have a little mess on our hands,” Davis said.
No computers or office equipment were damaged, she said, but maintenance crews had to shut power off to the building and spent much of the afternoon trying to soak up the water that poured in.
Washington and Fayette counties were under flash flood warnings in the afternoon before the National Weather Service upgraded it to a full flood warning for Friday evening.
John Darnley, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Pittsburgh, said rain showers will continue to pepper the area over the weekend.
“We’re kind of in this (weather) pattern over the weekend,” Darnley said. “We’re just going to be in a position to see some additional rain and storms develop over the weekend.”
The weather service is predicting a chance of thunderstorms today and a chance of showers on Sunday.