The Daily Item, Sunbury, PA

News

March 31, 2014

A 10-foot rise in 36 hours

River crest expected well below flood stage

SUNBURY — SUNBURY — Heavy rains over the weekend, coupled with some surprise heavy snow in parts of the Susquehanna Valley, forced a rapid rise in the Susquehanna River since Saturday night.

Officials said, however, the rise on the North and main branches river will not bring the rising waters near flood stage.

The Susquehanna River at Sunbury was expected to rise about 10 feet in 36 hours before cresting at an anticipated 18 feet Monday night. Early Sunday morning, the river was just above 9 feet deep where the two branches of the Susquehanna come together. Between 2 a.m. and 10 a.m. the river rose about three feet according to the National Weather Service.

The rise slowed down after noon and was expected to top out overnight near 18 feet.

National Wire Service Meteorologist Barry Lambert said rainfall and snow melt caused the river to rise sharply, from about 8 to 9 feet early Sunday morning to about 18 feet late Monday evening. “It will crest just below caution stage, which is 20 feet, and slowly drop down over the next few days,” he said.

By Thursday, Lambert expects the river level will be at about 14 feet.

The flood stage in Sunbury is 24 feet. The highest the river was ever recorded was 35.8 feet during Hurricane Agnes in June 1972 and the last flood was in 2011 when it rose to 31.66 feet.

In Danville, the river was expected to crest Monday night at 16.1 feet, well below flood stage of 20 feet, but within NWS calls “action stage” where some sort of precaution needs to be taken to mitigate potential flooding from creeks.

The last time the river in this Montour County borough rose above the 20-foot flood stage was in 2011 when the waters reached 31.55 feet. That September storm flooded the Danville Middle School, forcing its closure. The middle school, which is located adjacent to Mahoning Creek, reopened in this year after nearly two years of repairs. A new floodgate has been installed between the school and the river since the 2011 flood.

The highest the Susquehanna River reached in Danville was 32.32 feet in June 1972.

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