Heavy rains made March the third-wettest on record

Befitting one of the wildest periods in Philadelphia's weather history, March makes its exit Wednesday having left the region with yet another high-water mark.

The three days of soaking rains - with some ultra-soggy snowflakes thrown in Tuesday - brought the month's total to 7.24 inches, making it the third-wettest on record.

It also upped the February-March precipitation total of rain and liquified snow and ice to 12.99 inches, the most in that period since at least 1873, when the city began keeping score officially.

"You might as well break records if you're going to be miserable," said Tony Gigi, a meteorologist at the National Weather Service in Mount Holly.

The region escaped major damage, thanks in part to the long break between heavy-rain episodes, said Gigi. After overnight downpours, little rain fell during the day Monday.

But once the rains returned Tuesday, they did lead to 21/2-hour delays in arriving flights at Philadelphia International Airport, said spokeswoman Victoria Lupica.

Meanwhile, several towns today were bracing for flooding along runoff-swollen creeks.

In Burlington County, the north branch of the Rancocas Creek late Tuesday overflowed its banks in some places as it passed through Pemberton, Southampton, Eastampton, Mount Holly, Westampton, and Hainesport.

The water level rose above the 2.5-foot flood level to about 3 feet and was rising, Burlington County officials said. The tributary is expected to crest at 3.3 feet Wednesday evening.

County emergency-management officials advised residents and businesses along the north branch to prepare for severe flooding through Wednesday, said county spokesman Dave Wyche.

The persistent rain and flooding forced the closing of Mount Misery Road between Four-Mile Road and Junction Road in Pemberton at 3 p.m. Tuesday. And that, in turn, forced the B-1 BurLink bus service to alter its route.

"One thing you learn is that when you have an event like this, the rise in water levels is gradual," said Wyche. "That gives you time to react. When you have a sudden storm that dumps a lot of rain in an hour, you can have an issue.

"The people who are affected by this rain can get the things of value off the floors of their homes and move them higher," he said. "And they can also move vehicles."

In Lumberton, the waters of the south branch of the Rancocas Creek also left their banks Tuesday, bringing back memories of major floods in 2004 and 2007.

Several yards were turned into ponds. One house in town displayed a life-preserver instead of a wreath on the front door.

Burlington County's emergency management officials Tuesday fed information on the weather and flooding threat to coordinators in the municipalities so they could warn residents of any threats.

"It if becomes dangerous, the coordinators will recommend residents evacuate," Wyche said.

In Camden City, two westbound lanes of Admiral Wilson Boulevard were closed part of Tuesday because of the flooding.

In response to the flooding concerns, the Salvation Army-New Jersey Division was preparing to help flood victims and set up a fund for its flood recovery efforts.

In any event, that should be it for the rain for awhile.

Starting Wednesday, the rest of the week should be magnificent, with temperatures heading into the 70s by the weekend.

Despite Tuesday's raw day that felt like it wandered in from February, this month will go into the books as one of the 10 warmest Marches on record.

It also will end up tying a snow record held by several other Marches: Officially, no snow has been measured this month.


Contact staff writer Edward Colimore at 856-779-3833 or ecolimore@phillynews.com.