PENNSYLVANIA (WHTM) — Pennsylvania is no stranger to flooding. Flooding happens along streams and creeks from heavy rainfalls or remnants of tropical cyclones.
But some of the floods broke records of the wrong kind along streams, creeks, and rivers.
Here are four of the worst floods that the commonwealth has ever seen.
Johnstown Flood of May 1889
This flood occurred in the town of Johnstown, which is 60 miles east of Pittsburgh. The South Fork Dam collapsed on May 31 of 1889. According to History.com, this flood occurred from steady rain that had fallen the previous day. A spillway at the dam became clogged with debris and could not be cleared.
History.com states that an engineer saw the impending danger and rode a horse to the village of South Fork to warn the residents. But, due to telegraph lines being down, the warning never made it to Johnstown.
The dam collapsed at 3:10 p.m. and water rushed into the town at 40 miles per hour, sweeping everything away. Over 2,000 people died in the flood and it took five years to rebuild the town.
Hurricane Agnes: June 1972
Between June 21-22 1972, over seven inches of rain ran throughout the entire state due to the remnants of Hurricane Agnes. The National Weather Service (NWS) states that 13.50 inches of rain were reported in York in 24 hours, where the city was essentially cut in two by the Codorus Creek.
This was more than enough rainfall to bring record flooding to all the major river basins in the state. In Harrisburg, the Susquehanna River reported a record crest of 33.27 feet. In Wilkes-Barre, the river reached a crest of 40.9 feet and caused major damage to both cities.
The final fatality count in Pennsylvania from this event was 48, with almost $3 billion in damages.
Tropical Storm Lee: September 2011
Another massive flooding event hit Pennsylvania between Sept. 7-8, 2011.
The remnants of Tropical Storm Lee brought massive amounts of rainfall to places that were hit hard by Agnes in 1972. In the Midstate, flooding occurred on the Swatara Creek in Hershey and broke its record flood stage by over 10 feet. Hersheypark and areas around the park were underwater.
The Susquehanna River affected Harrisburg once again, with the NWS saying that buildings along the waterfront became flooded up to their second floor.
In Wilkes-Barre, the river beat its own record by almost two feet at 42.66 feet, after 10- 15 inches of rain fell across the region.
Floods of January 1996
Winter storms during 1996 brought record snowpack to much of the state. But, on Jan. 19, the weather patterns shifted and went into an extreme version of a January Thaw. Three inches of rain fell as temperatures rose into the 50s and 60s.
According to the NWS, the snowmelt caused by the intense rain brought large amounts of water into rivers and streams that were still frozen.
Because of this, ice jams formed, and water backed up into communities all along the Susquehanna River.
The NWS states the main stem at Harrisburg, the river crested at its highest level since Agnes. Ice jam flooding across the area was major including several major ice jams in the proximity of Harrisburg. One jam resulted in the collapse of the Walnut Street Bridge.