State College

Torrential rains cancel Centre County's Fourth of July parade for first time ever

Storms across Centre County flood out Fourth of July

A large thunderstorm dropped several inches of rain on Centre County Wednesday, flooding roadways and shutting down Fourth of July celebrations.
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A large thunderstorm dropped several inches of rain on Centre County Wednesday, flooding roadways and shutting down Fourth of July celebrations.

It was bright. It was hot. It was humid. In other words, just a normal Fourth of July in Centre County.

Then it rained.

And rained. And rained. And rained some more.

A storm of no small significance swept across the county Wednesday afternoon, dampening Independence Day celebrations and flooding streets and roads throughout the area. The storm even shut down the Central PA 4th Fest Independence Day parade for the first time ever, treasurer Charles Gable said.

But don't worry, he added, the fireworks will go off regardless.

Emergency crews were called for flooding long before the storm made its way to the Centre Region, foreshadowing things to come. The Fourth of July parade through Osceola Mills caught the first of the rain, but pushed on despite the conditions. Flooding would later be reported in Philipsburg.

The 4th Fest parade had been scheduled to wind its way through the State College borough and Penn State campus beginning at 2 p.m., but storm clouds had made their way across the Centre Region by then, cutting bright bolts of lightning over the borough. By the scheduled parade start time, sheets of rain were already falling.

The parade was postponed until 2:30, but was ultimately shut down by 2:15 because of safety concerns. Parade teams huddled in the borough building and horses staged in the Beaver Street parking garage would need to be loaded up and sent home.

Crowds along South Allen Street and East College Avenue took refuge under alcoves and overhangs along the downtown area as water rushed into the streets. When the cancellation announcement came, the disappointment in the crowd was evident, as one small child covered under the Corner Room overhang began to cry.

Flooding was reported across the region, with downed trees and sporadic power outages across Bellefonte, Centre Hall and spots in the eastern part of the county. Emergency crews went to work, blocking off flooded streets, redirecting traffic and removing debris from the road.

By about 2:20 p.m., the National Weather Service had declared a flash flood warning across Centre, Clearfield, Blair, Huntingdon and Mifflin counties lasting until 11 p.m. A flood advisory was also in effect until 4:15 p.m.

By early evening, State College had been washed with about one-to-three inches of rain, National Weather Service meteorologist Michael Colbert reported, with some areas getting up to four inches. The rain was expected to push south as the evening progressed.

Residents caught a break with a temperature drop during the storm, but could find things getting muggy later on. Colbert said temperatures could come back up once the storm passed, with increasing humidity as the rain evaporated.