Pennsylvanians Urged to Use Caution for Strong Storms Friday and Flooding through the Weekend

April 19, 2019

Harrisburg, PA – Governor Tom Wolf today asked residents and travelers in Pennsylvania to be vigilant in paying attention to weather conditions throughout the afternoon, overnight and when traveling during this holiday weekend as storms could bring damaging winds and flash flooding in the central and eastern parts of the state.

“With strong storms forecast for Friday into the night, roads may flood and rivers and streams could rise quickly,” Gov. Wolf said. “I want everyone to have a safe holiday weekend and so I ask all residents and travelers to monitor the weather before heading out and to never drive through standing water. We must always put safety first.”

The National Weather Service is forecasting rain beginning this afternoon with heavy pockets of rain continuing overnight. The heavy rains present an ongoing threat of flash flooding. Streams and waterways will then rise through the weekend in response to the rain, with additional flooding possible. In addition, strong winds or an isolated tornado may produce additional damage Friday.

In preparation for possible flooding, the Helicopter Aquatic Rescue Team (PA HART) is on standby today starting at 6 p.m. PA-HART is a partnership between the Pennsylvania Army National Guard (PAANG), the Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission (PFBC), and PEMA along with credentialed civilian rescue technicians. This highly trained aerial search-and-rescue team provides an air asset to respond to natural and manmade disasters incidents. Team members use both helicopters that are hoist-capable and boats to rescue people from flood waters.

“PEMA staff will be working closely with our county emergency management partners to ensure that any state resources that are needed will be made available,” said PEMA Executive Deputy Director Jeff Thomas. “We’re asking that you do your part by making sure you can get weather alerts and being vigilant for severe weather and flooding, so that you and your loved ones are safe.”

PennDOT warns motorists not to drive across roads covered with water because even shallow, swiftly flowing water can wash a car from a roadway. Also, the roadbed may not be intact under the water. And never drive around barricades or signs on closed roads – Turn Around, Don’t Drown.

Fines for going around a barricade are $250; if emergency responders need to perform a water rescue or have a vehicle towed, the fine increases to $500 plus two points on the driver’s license.

Anyone planning to travel through the holiday weekend should closely monitor weather conditions along travel routes.

Motorists can check conditions on more than 40,000 roadway miles, including color-coded winter conditions on 2,900 miles, by visiting www.511PA.com. 511PA, which is free and available 24 hours a day, provides traffic delay warnings, weather forecasts, traffic speed information and access to more than 860 traffic cameras.

511PA is also available through a smartphone application for iPhone and Android devices, by calling 5-1-1, or by following regional Twitter alerts accessible on the 511PA website.
Free emergency preparedness information is available online at www.Ready.PA.gov. You can download free emergency kit checklists and family emergency plans.

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