Pittsburgh Region Copes With Flash Flooding, Road Closures

Jul 10, 2013

A police officer directs traffic at the intersection of Route 88 and McNeilly Road in Pittsburgh. A portion of Route 88 had been closed due to flooding.
Credit Ryan Loew / 90.5 WESA

UPDATE: 9:47 a.m. Thursday

After heavy rain from storms Wednesday brought flash flooding across the Pittsburgh region, officials are advising that some roadways remain closed Thursday. More details here.

All weather warnings and watches for Allegheny County have expired, and the National Weather Service is forecasting a slight chance of showers for the Pittsburgh region before 11 a.m. Otherwise, Thursday is expected to be mostly cloudy with a high near 77.

UPDATE:  4:30 pm

The National Weather Service has issued a Flash Flood Warning for Allegheny County until 8:00 pm.  Earlier Flash Flood Warnings had been issued for Venango County till 8:00 pm and Mercer County till 7:30 pm.  A Flood Watch is in effect for all of southwestern PA until 6:00 am Thursday.

At a 4:00 media briefing this afternoon, Scot Deutsch, assistant chief of operations with the Allegheny County Emergency Management Administration, said that several municipalities had issued emergency declarations:  Findlay Township, North Fayette Township, Elizabeth Borough, Elizabeth Township, Jefferson Hills,  Upper St. Clair and West Elizabeth.  

With more rain moving through the area,  Deutsch said crews will focus on response efforts this evening and conduct damage assessments Thursday.

The Port Authority says rail and busway service is returning.  Spokeswoman Heather Pharo says Light Rail (T) service on the Red Line has been restored, but Blue Line service remains suspended while Port Authority crews clear debris from the tracks. Riders using  the Red Line should expect delays. Additionally, normal routing for South Busway routes has resumed and Port Authority’s other busways are operating normally. Other buses may be delayed throughout the system by as much as 30 minutes.

County officials now say that Banksville Road is OPEN in both directions.

UPDATE:  3:45 pm Openings and Closures

  • Route 51 (Saw Mill Run Boulevard) Southbound is CLOSED between Woodruff and Whited
  • Route 51 (Saw Mill Run Boulevard) Northbound is CLOSED between Route 88 and Bausman
  • Banksville Road is CLOSED between Crane Avenue and the Parkway West (I-376)
  • Route 51 Southbound is now OPEN between the West End Bridge and the Parkway West (I-376)
  • Route 51 Northbound is now OPEN from Bausman to the West End Bridge

Authorities report that some motorists have been driving their vehicles around barricades at Edgebrook and Milan Avenue.   Do not ignore closed roads with barricades.  County officials say you will be cited.

UPDATE:  2:43 pm

Allegheny County and city of Pittsburgh officials held a media briefing at noon about Wednesday's flash flooding in the region that led to road closures due to standing water, rocks and debris; motorists stranded in their cars; and other residents trapped in their homes as floodwaters rose.

Pittsburgh Public Safety Director Michael Huss said there were rescues during the morning, but no serious injuries have been reported.  However, Huss urged motorists to stay away from roads in the South Hills.

Mayor Luke Ravenstahl speaks during a media conference Wednesday about the morning's flash flooding.
Credit Michael Lynch / 90.5 WESA

"The evening rush hour is going to be very dangerous today," Huss said. He added that emergency crews continue to move through flood-affected neighborhoods. Mayor Luke Ravenstahl urged employers to allow their workers to leave early to lessen the afternoon rush hour.

Scott Deutsch, assistant chief of Allegheny County emergency operations, is urging rush our drivers to plan alternate routes for their journey home, as the same roads are expected to flood.

“If you travel these roads tonight for rush hour,” he said, “the same area you had problems going in this morning, you’re probably going to have problems coming back out … Think up an alternative route right now before we get to the storm between rush hour tonight.”

From 7 a.m. to 11 a.m., Allegheny County’s 911 center typically receives 530 calls. On Wednesday, the center received 1,600 in the four hour period, according to Deutsch.

Pittsburgh’s Director of Public Works, Robert Kaczorowski, said roadways like Route 51, Streets Run and Mifflin Road are under close watch by the city.

“They are the flood prone areas that we are on alert for,” he said. “We have crews that will be working around the clock: our heavy equipment people, our public works people, our forestry divisions. And what’s going to happen is they’re going to be on stand-by looking at these locations. As soon as there’s any chance of the streets re-flooding, we’re going to shut them down.”

The National Weather Service says to expect more rain in the Pittsburgh area this afternoon — as much as an inch an hour. A severe thunderstorm watch has been issued for Allegheny County from 1:30 to 8 p.m.

Oakdale Borough, which had water five feet higher in the center of town, has joined Findlay Township and Elizabeth Borough in declaring a state of emergency.

More roadways are reopening to traffic including Route 837 under the Duquesne McKeesport Bridge.


UPDATE:  11:00 am

  • West End Bridge is reopened to traffic.
  • West End Circle is reopened to traffic.
  • National Weather Service reports three inches of rain fall in Mt. Lebanon.
  • County officials say water is five feet high in center of Oakdale Borough.


Flooding is seen at I-376 Inbound at the Fort Pitt Garage this morning.
Credit Photo courtesy PennDOT

Flooded roadways, debris in streets, detours, water rising around cars and houses — all as a result of the heavy downpours throughout much of the Pittsburgh region.

The National Weather Service in Pittsburgh has extended a flash flood warning for Allegheny County, Southern Beaver County and Northern Washington County until 11:15 a.m.

Duquesne Light is reporting 2,200 customers are currently without power.

Allegheny County has activated its Emergency Operations Center and Pittsburgh Public Safety Director Michael Huss is urging residents and commuters to avoid flooded roadways.

Huss said south of the Mon River, along the Route 51 corridor, there are several flooded roadways. Emergency crews are on scene and the city's swift water rescue teams are still responding to several emergency and life-threatening situations. Huss is asking that people stay off roads south of Mt. Washington.

In addition, Findlay Township has declared a disaster emergency due to the flash flooding. Elizabeth Borough also has declared a state of emergency, and the borough's emergency operations center was activated.
Some of the major intersections that are flooded and closed include:
·      Route 51 at Edgebrook.
·      Banksville and Crane to the Parkway West
·      McNeilly at Route 88
·      Route 51 at West Liberty
·      Bausman and Edgebrook
·      West End Circle

As always commuters must avoid driving through standing water.

How bad is the storm damage and flooding in your area? Send us pics via Twitter @905wesa or via email at web@wesa.fm.