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Environment & Energy

Hurricane Ida Aftermath Expected To Bring 2-4 Inches Of Rain To Pittsburgh Region

Hurricane Ida Photo Gallery
Eric Gay
Cyclists peddle through floodwaters caused by the effects of Hurricane Ida near the New Orleans Marina, Monday, Aug. 30, 2021, in New Orleans, La.

Latest weather information, updated Wednesday, Sep. 1, 7:54 a.m.

Weather forecasters anticipate heavy rains on Tuesday and Wednesday in the Pittsburgh area as the tail end of Hurricane Ida passes through the region.

Hurricane Ida made landfall in Louisiana as a Category 4 hurricane on Sunday. It is one of the strongest storms to ever hit the United States. Scientists said climate change helped turn Hurricane Ida into a more powerful storm before it hit land in Louisiana earlier this week. As global temperatures increase, storms are likely to get more intense.

It has weakened to a tropical storm as it moves north, but forecasters said it could still bring 2 to 4 inches of rainfall to areas of Western Pennsylvania, including Allegheny, Indiana, Westmoreland, and Washington Counties. Counties just south of Pittsburgh, like Fayette and Greene, could see upwards of 5 to 6 inches of rainfall.

“Even though it’s weakening in terms of its intensity and losing its tropical characteristics over land, that doesn’t necessarily mean that the rainfall threat is minimized,” said Myranda Fullerton, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Pittsburgh.

Fullerton said the NWS will continue to monitor for potential flash flooding in Allegheny, Armstrong, Indiana, Westmoreland, Fayette, Washington, and Greene counties from Wednesday through Thursday morning.

Most of the rainfall is expected to occur over Tuesday night into Wednesday evening. Fullerton said people should “anticipate a fairly wet morning commute” on Wednesday, noting that moderate to heavy rainfall early in the morning could impact roadways.

“By the time people drive home for the evening commute, the evening rush hour, it should be starting to decrease in coverage and intensity,” Fullerton said.

The increased rainfall could lead to flooding in areas that don’t typically experience it.

“Given the anticipated rainfall amounts, we are anticipating more widespread flooding that’s not just confined to urban areas and poor drainage,” Fullerton said. In Western Pennsylvania, creeks, streams, tributaries, rivers “rise very quickly and they also diminish very quickly as well. So that rapid rise may cause some concerns.”

City officials say they’ve taken steps to prepare for the weather, such as cleaning out catch basins and storm drains. Swift Water Flood Response teams will be prepared to help out in areas “that are most susceptible to flooding.”

Officials say residents should never drive into flooded areas and should otherwise avoid creeks, waterways, and other areas prone to flooding.

Fullerton said that after Wednesday night, “better days are ahead.”

“[There’s] kind of a tale of two seasons here—a very tropical, wet, rainy atmosphere until Wednesday night, and then a cold front will help push the remnants of Ida through the region and bring some very pleasant dry conditions into the Labor Day weekend.”