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Environment & Science

Flood watch issued for the Lehigh Valley amid prolonged soaking

Monocacy Creek rain
Chris Sexton
Runners from Moravian University make their way through the rain along Conestoga Street in Bethlehem as the swollen Monocacy Creek rushes by on Tuesday, April 2, 2024. A flood watch is in effect for the Lehigh Valley starting at 6 a.m. Wednesday, April 3.

BETHLEHEM, Pa. — The National Weather Service issued a flood watch for the Lehigh Valley and surrounding areas into New Jersey, starting Wednesday.

The watch runs from 6 a.m. Wednesday through 6 p.m. Thursday.

With at least another full day of steady rain expected, the first half of the week’s washout continues.

By 4 p.m. Tuesday, much of the Lehigh Valley surpassed the one-inch mark, collecting nearly a half-inch of rain in a 24-hour period.

Amounts totaled 1.47 inches in Bethlehem, 1.14 inches for Easton, 1.22 inches at the Allentown's Queen City Municipal Airport, and 1.5 inches in Center Valley, according to the weather service.

“The watch crossed the Lehigh Valley as well as all of southeast Pennsylvania and into northwest central and even portions of southern New Jersey,” said meteorologist Amanda Lee, with the National Weather Service in Mount Holly, New Jersey.

“We’ve already had multiple rounds of rainfall over the past couple of days, and so the antecedent conditions were pretty wet already. We’re expecting additional rainfall amounts in the range of 1-3 inches across the watch area.”

The bulk of the rain will continue through Thursday and linger as light rain and mist into Friday.

The weather service predicts between a tenth and a quarter-inch possible through Tuesday night. Rain will fall heavily at times and the chance of precipitation at 100 percent through late Wednesday afternoon. Thunderstorms are included in the mix Tuesday night and Wednesday.

As a result, excessive runoff may result in the flooding of rivers, creeks, streams and other low-lying and flood-prone locations, according to the flood watch announcement.

About two dozen river points are forecast to approach flood stage Wednesday into Thursday, with several exceeding flood stage. The most intense rain is expected to fall Wednesday into Wednesday night, according to the weather service.

The Delaware River at Riegelsville was at 7.9 feet at 3:30 p.m. Tuesday. Flood stage is 22 feet.

The Little Lehigh Creek near Trexlertown at 3:30 p.m. Tuesday was observed at 3.29 feet. Flood stage is 4.5 feet.

Excessive runoff may continue to cause rivers, creeks, and streams to rise through the end of the week, even when the rain has ended.

Those living in areas prone to flooding should be prepared to take action should flooding develop, the weather service advised.

At noon Tuesday, the temperature hovered at 46 degrees, where it remained until 2:45 p.m.

Winds could reach 15 mph Tuesday night and gust up to 30 mph Wednesday night.

Thursday looks like the first opportunity for 50 degrees and a chance of sun, while Sunday looks ike the best day to be out and about, getting as high as 57 degrees and becoming mostly sunny.