After a day-into-night drenching across the Philadelphia region, swollen waterways and continued rain were expected to cause traffic woes during Thursday's morning commute.
The National Weather Service posted a flood watch for the entire region. Flooding was forecast for the Schuylkill in Philadelphia and near Pottstown and Norristown, the Brandywine Creek at Chadds Ford, and the Perkiomen Creek at Graterford.
Wednesday's deluge put the brakes on the evening commute for area motorists, forcing the closing of more than 40 roads in Chester and Montgomery Counties, and dozens more in Delaware and Bucks Counties and across South Jersey through the night. Numerous water rescues were reported.
Flooding blocked or jammed commuters on the Schuylkill Expressway near Belmont and Girard Avenues. Lincoln Drive between Gypsy and Rittenhouse Lanes in both directions was closed for a time, as were the northbound lanes of Kelly Drive between Fountain Green and Strawberry Mansion Drives.
About 10 p.m., firefighters on rafts rescued a SEPTA driver and two passengers from a flooded Route 61 bus in Manayunk, Police Chief Inspector Scott Small said.
In South Jersey, county dispatchers reported sporadic road closures, car accidents, and stranded drivers whose cars had gotten stuck in flooded roads.
The Red Cross operated two comfort centers in Chester County and one in Delaware County to accommodate residents displaced by flooding. About 50 people had arrived at the centers as of 10:30 p.m., the agency said.
Guadalupe Cisneros, 53, her husband, and their teenage son took shelter at the Red Cross center set up in the gym of Avon Grove High School in Chester County.
Sometime after 5 p.m., residents of the apartment complex where her family lives in a third-floor unit were ordered by Avondale Borough to evacuate.
When she got to the ground level, she and her family had to wade through water above her knees surging from nearby White Clay Creek to get to her family's car and drive to the high school.
Cisneros was near tears as she described her experience, according to Denise Almanza, the Red Cross volunteer who translated her Spanish into English to a reporter over the phone. The current from the creek was powerful. "I was scared," Cisneros said.
As much as an inch of rain fell just between 3 and 5 p.m. in some places, with the heaviest amounts near the I-95 corridor and to the west. More than four inches of rain had fallen at Philadelphia International Airport by 8 p.m., breaking the previous record for the date, 3.29 inches, set in 1947.
Flights arriving at Philadelphia International were delayed by an average of 103 minutes, the airport reported. Flights to cities affected by the storms, including Washington, Boston, New York, and Newark, N.J., were delayed by 35 minutes to 21/2 hours, the Federal Aviation Administration said.
Burlington County dispatchers reported that a traffic accident in the Bordentown Township area shut down Route 206, with wires and poles down.
A Camden County dispatcher said "the whole north end" of the county experienced road flooding due to heavy rains, and the Cherry Hill Police Department said multiple cars had been stranded throughout the county.
The rains closed about 20 Chester County roads along the Brandywine Creek and the Schuylkill, according to emergency services reports. A woman was rescued from her SUV near Clover Mill Road and Route 113 in West Pikeland Township, police said.
In Montgomery County, the Whitemarsh Township Emergency Management Office closed four streets, and about 25 roads in the county were shut down.
Inquirer staff writers Jonathan Lai and Robert Moran contributed to this article.