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September 01, 2021

Ida remnants put Philly region on high alert for flooding, severe storms

Heavy rainfall, threat of tornados expected Wednesday into Thursday

Weather Flooding
Ida Philly Flooding Storms Asbury Park Press/for PhillyVoice

Remnants of Hurricane Ida will impact Pennsylvania and New Jersey throughout the day Wednesday and into Thursday. The photo above, taken in New Jersey, shows the Barnegat Bay looking east towards Seaside Heights and Seaside Park.

Residents across the Philadelphia area and the Mid-Atlantic region are bracing for flash flooding and potentially severe weather as Tropical Depression Ida rolls north with heavy rainfall on Wednesday into Thursday.

LATEST: Record levels of flooding expected after Ida remnants bring heavy rainfall to Philly region

A tornado warning was briefly issued in Philadelphia, Chester and Drexel Hill on Wednesday afternoon as the intensity of the storms picked up throughout the Delaware Valley. Another tornado warning was issued for Philadelphia, Camden and Lindenwold until 6:45 p.m, and a flash flood warning will be in effect until 11:30 p.m.

Rain arrived early Wednesday morning, but the worst was expected to come in the late afternoon and overnight into Thursday. The National Weather Service in Mount Holly had warned residents in the area not to be fooled by mild conditions earlier Wednesday. 

As the storm system moves through the area, the NWS says the main threats will be excessive rainfall and severe thunderstorms, including the possibilities of tornadoes. Flash flooding could be worst in areas where the ground is saturated from recent heavy rainfall events.

As much as six inches of rainfall could hit areas of Pennsylvania and New Jersey during the course of the next 24 hours. A tornado watch will remain in effect across much of the region until 10 p.m. Wednesday. 

Along the I-95 corridor in Philadelphia, Wilmington and Trenton, NWS forecasters say anywhere from two to five inches of rain could fall Wednesday into Thursday, with higher amounts possible locally. The worst of the storm is expected to hit the Lehigh Valley and areas west in Berks County, though the upper portions of Bucks, Montgomery and Chester counties all could see dangerous flooding and severe storms.

In Philadelphia, the Office of Emergency Management said the Schuylkill River may reach the NWS's minor flood stage by Thursday night. Residents and motorists in the area are advised to use caution and seek higher ground in the event of serious flooding. 

Areas to the south and east, including the Jersey Shore, are expected to see closer to one to three inches of rain but remain at an elevated risk of flash flooding.

In advance of Ida's arrival, Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf issued a disaster emergency proclamation and warned of the storm's high-risk conditions.

"This dangerous storm continues to have devastating impacts across the South and as it heads toward Pennsylvania, we are expecting significant rainfall across the state," Wolf said. "This proclamation will allow for our emergency preparedness teams to provide any support needed throughout the storm and its aftermath," Wolf said. "I urge Pennsylvanians to monitor local weather and traffic conditions before making any plans and prepare for potential flooding."

In Bensalem Township, where a tornado caused extensive local damage in July, Mayor Joseph DiGirolamo advised residents to take precautions for Ida. The mayor warned that trees may be more prone to falling given the amount of rainfall and severe weather in the area this summer.

Nearby, Croydon and Bristol also are preparing for potentially severe flooding after the towns were ravaged by a 100-year flood that left homes, apartments and businesses destroyed in July.

Residents across the region should stay alert, monitor rivers and streams and be prepared to move to higher ground, if necessary. Motorists should never drive through areas of standing water.

Ida began as a Category 4 Hurricane and slammed into the Louisiana coastline over the weekend, pummeling the area with torrential rain, wind and flooding that left damage across the region. At least six deaths have been attributed to the storm across the South, including two in Mississippi on Monday night after cars fell into a chasm where a highway had collapsed. Two electrical workers who were repairing grid damage in Alabama also died as a result of Ida's destruction.

More than one million people in Louisiana and Mississippi remain without power in the aftermath of the hurricane.

Below is a look at the NWS forecast for Philadelphia through Labor Day weekend.

Wednesday afternoon: A chance of showers and thunderstorms, then showers likely and possibly a thunderstorm after 3 p.m. Some storms could be severe, with damaging winds and heavy rain. Cloudy, with a high near 80. East wind around 10 mph. Chance of precipitation is 60%. New rainfall amounts between a half and three quarters of an inch possible.

Wednesday night: Showers and possibly a thunderstorm. Some storms could be severe, with damaging winds and heavy rain. Low around 64. Southeast wind 10 to 15 mph becoming north after midnight. Chance of precipitation is 100%. New rainfall amounts between 2 and 3 inches possible.

Thursday: Showers and thunderstorms likely before 9 a.m., then a slight chance of showers between 9 a.m. and noon. Some of the storms could produce heavy rainfall. Cloudy through mid morning, then gradual clearing, with a high near 75. North wind 10 to 15 mph. Chance of precipitation is 60%. New precipitation amounts between a tenth and quarter of an inch, except higher amounts possible in thunderstorms.

Thursday night: Mostly clear, with a low around 58. North wind 5 to 10 mph.

Friday: Sunny, with a high near 76. Northwest wind 5 to 10 mph.

Friday night: Partly cloudy, with a low around 59.

Saturday: Sunny, with a high near 78.

Saturday night: Partly cloudy, with a low around 65.

Sunday: Partly sunny, with a high near 79.

Sunday night: A chance of showers between 9pm and 3am. Mostly cloudy, with a low around 66. Chance of precipitation is 30%.

Monday: Sunny, with a high near 81.

Monday night: Mostly clear, with a low around 64.