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Flash flooding inundates Lehigh Valley streams, streets; Bushkill Park under water

Flooded Bushkill Creek in Tatamy
Chris Moren
Water rages along the flooded Bushkill Creek in Tatamy on Sunday, July 16, 2023.

MORE: Slate Belt hit hard by storms, flash flooding. Neighbors clean up the mess

BETHLEHEM, Pa. — Another round of severe storms dumped several inches of rain, put Bushkill Park in the Easton area under water and turned streets in the Slate Belt into raging rivers Sunday.

  • The Lehigh Valley received another round of severe storms overnight
  • A flash flood warning for southeastern Lehigh and Northampton counties expired at 8:15 a.m. Sunday
  • Multiple fatalities were reported in Bucks County due to flooding

Flash flood warnings by the National Weather Service in parts of the Lehigh Valley expired Sunday morning, including one that lasted until 9:45 a.m. in the Easton area and the Slate Belt.

The Northampton County Office of Emergency Management said it was responding to severe flash flooding in Lower Mount Bethel Township, where roads were flooded and in at least one case — along Little Creek Road just outside Martins Creek — washed away.

Flash flooding on Messinger Street in Bangor

“There are currently numerous roads that are flooded there, and therefore, impassable,” the county said in a statement on social media.

In Bangor, Christopher Medico posted video of water gushing along Messinger Street, one of the borough's main drags, with nowhere to go but into and around houses.

A tweet by NVP Alerts showed the Bushkill Creek at the border of Easton and Palmer townships spilled over its banks, with Bushkill Park under water.

In Forks Township, the fire department responded to numerous water rescue calls after motorists tried to enter flooded roads that included Sullivan Trail, a main thoroughfare.

"Please be sure to never drive around barricades, or enter any water-covered roadways," the township police department posted on Facebook.

The weather prompted the postponement for a second-straight week of Easton's Heritage Day fireworks. The aerial display was set for Sunday night from Hackett Park. The show will be rescheduled with a new date announced later in the week, according to the city.

Rainfall amounts for much of the region had yet to be reported to the weather service by its spotters, but 1.02 inches of rain was recorded at Lehigh Valley International Airport between 2 a.m. and 8 a.m. Sunday, the weather service said.

A network of volunteer weather spotters who report to the weather service recorded totals up to nearly 4 inches in some areas.

Between 1 and 2.5 inches of rain have fallen in the region, with additional rainfall amounts of 1 to 1.5 inches possible, according to the National Weather Service.

The Lehigh Valley actually was spared the worst of it.

In Bucks County, at four people died and three others were unaccounted for after nearly 5 inches of rain fell in a two-hour period early Saturday night, according to the Philadelphia Inquirer. The deluge was centered in the Washington Crossing area in Upper and Lower Makefield townships in lower Bucks.

The weather service said flash flooding could be life-threatening and overwhelm creeks, streams, highways, streets and underpasses.

A flood watch is in effect for the entire Lehigh Valley through Sunday until midnight.

Meteorologist Alex Dodd with the National Weather Service said the worst of the storms likely have passed.

"It looks like there is a lull in the activity now that the storms that prompted the flood warning have moved off to the northeast."
Meteorologist Alex Dodd

"It looks like there is a lull in the activity now that the storms that prompted the flood warning have moved off to the northeast," he said shortly before 7 a.m.

"There's still some weaker showers in the vicinity, but nothing particularly of note during the early-morning hours."

He said to expect a chance of scattered showers late in the morning or midday, with the possibility of more downpours.

"Given the moist environment, it will be capable of heavy rainfall," Dodd said.

Bushkill Creek after heavy rain and flash flooding

Flooded Braden Park in Tatamy
Chris Moren
Braden Park in Tatamy is flooded on Sunday, July 16, 2023. The park off Sullivan Trail is along the Bushkill Creek.

Interstate 78 and the Northeast Extension of the Pennsylvania Turnpike were vulnerable to flash flooding, according to the weather service.

The weather service issued a number of tornado warnings early Sunday in central New Jersey, including in Hunterdon County. The warning that affected the Flemington and Clinton areas expired at 5:15 a.m.

The Saturday and Sunday storms were the latest rounds of rain after a dry spell that had moved much of the region into drought status.

By Friday, the Lehigh Valley had measured 7.47 inches of rain since June 1, with almost half of it coming this month after severe thunderstorms last weekend.

The rainfall has been enough to officially remove Lehigh and Northampton counties from drought status, according to the U.S. Drought Monitor.

Monday's forecast calls for sunny skies and a high near 88. A chance of showers and thunderstorms return Tuesday, with mostly sun and a high near 87, according to the forecast.

This story will be updated.