2013 U.S. Open: Course cleared amid severe weather warning at Merion Golf Club
The United States Golf Association has cleared the course at Merion Golf Club, as strong thunderstorms head towards the site of the 2013 U.S. Open.
At 8:36 a.m., the warning horn sounded across Merion and play was suspended. Although the severe weather had not yet arrived, the horn was blown to give spectators, players and staff enough time to reach shelter.
The USGA asked all spectators to seek shelter quickly, and to remain there until the severe weather has passed.
Shuttle buses for spectators parking at PPL Park in Chester has been suspended, but only for people coming to Merion. Transportation from Merion to PPL Park is still available.
Just after 10:45 a.m., SEPTA resumed shuttle bus service to Merion from the Rosemont regional rail stations. Fans taking public transportation to Merion can also use the Norristown High Speed Line, as the Ardmore Avenue is a short walk away from an entrance to the course.
The National Weather Service says a severe thunderstorm watch is in effect for the region. Forecasters say widespread flash flooding, river flooding, tornadoes, strong winds and hail are all possible in the area. Wind gusts could reach up to 60 miles per hour at Merion.
Earlier in the morning, the USGA issued a warning about what could come. From then on, plans to secure the safety of everyone at Merion were put into action.
Along with the particular threat of severe weather for the morning, it's expected that there will be rain throughout the day. There could be more thunderstorms in the afternoon.
Flooding is a concern at Merion: The 11th hole, the lowest-lying on the course, is near two creeks and was flooded after heavy rainstorms earlier this week.
Already-saturated soil and high water levels in streams, creeks and rivers from record rainfall on Friday and Monday mean flooding courd occur with less than an inch of rain, forecasters say, and expected thunderstorms could "easily produce that much rain in a short time."
If there are fewer than four hours of play on Thursday, fans will be able to have their tickets honored on another day of the event. That will be tricky, though, with Merion already set to be at its 25,000-person capacity throughout the weekend.