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Heavy rain, melting snow may lead to flooding

According to information released from the PA Emergency Management Agency, state emergency officials said a storm system that could bring two inches of rain or more to much of the state could cause minor to moderate flooding along creeks, streams and rivers.
“We are working closely with the National Weather Service and local emergency management officials to monitor this weather system and to take all necessary precautions to protect lives and property if water levels rise,” said Pennsylvania Emergency Management Agency Director Robert P. French in a press release.
The National Weather Service says conditions will be favorable for flooding caused by melting snow combined with heavy rains, and has issued a flood watch for the region for today and tomorrow.
The Huntingdon County Emergency Management Agency released information this morning reporting on the conditions of the Little Juniata River.
Early this morning, at Spruce Creek, the river was reported to be at 7.27 feet with a projected maximum level of 8.1 feet. The flood state in that area is eight feet.
In Huntingdon, the river was already reported to have reached 9.49 feet with a maximum projected level of 10 feet by this afternoon. The flood stage at Huntingdon is 12 feet.
PennDOT warns motorists not to drive across roads covered with water as the water may be deeper than it looks.
Motorists who encounter water covered roads are encouraged to turn around and not put themselves at risk.
PennDOT also offers the following tips for preparing vehicles and driving in rainy conditions:
• If wipers are on, headlights need to be on, it’s the law;
• Check the headlights – both low and high beams – before heading out to make sure all bulbs are working;
• Check wiper blades – replace them if they feel rough to the touch;
• Do not attempt to drive over a flooded road. Turn around and go another way;
• Do not underestimate the destructive power of fast-moving water. Two feet of fast moving flood water will float your car. Even slow moving water can sweep cars off a road or bridge;
• Slow down. Driving slower on wet surfaces is always a good idea;
• Try to stay at least two car lengths behind the car in front of you and
• If you are in your car and water begins to rise rapidly around you, abandon the vehicle immediately.
In the event of a power failure, PennDOT would like to remind motorists that numerous traffic signals might become inoperative. The rule of the road requires motorists to react to an inoperative signal as they would a four-way-stop. That is, come to a complete stop and yield the right-of-way to the motorist on the right.
Motorists are encouraged to report maintenance concerns to PennDOT by using its toll-free Roadway Maintenance Hotline at 1-800-FIX-ROAD (1-800-349-7623).
French added anyone who lives in an area where there is a history of flooding should watch for notification of any weather watches and warnings on their local TV or radio stations provided through the Emergency Alert System.
A weather watch means there is a possibility of severe weather; advance preparations should be made.
A weather warning means that severe weather is imminent, and your severe weather plan should be implemented.
French also provided tips to prepare for flooding. He noted people should plan and practice an evacuation route and contact the local emergency management office for a copy of its community flood evacuation plan.
Also, always have disaster supplies on hand, including: flashlights and extra batteries; portable, battery-operated radio and extra batteries; first aid kit and manual; emergency food and water; non-electric can opener; essential medicines/prescriptions; cash, credit cards and important legal documents and sturdy shoes.
High water has already forced several roads in Huntingdon and Fulton Counties to be closed.
For interstate closures motorists can go to www.dot.state.pa.us
Additional flood safety information and weather updates can be found at www.PEMA.state.pa.us.