By Joe Beck
Heavy rain sweeping through the Northern Shenandoah Valley on Wednesday raised river levels to near flood stage for the first time this year.
Emergency responders reported few incidents, none of them serious, despite morning flooding on some roads in Shenandoah County.
Shenandoah County Fire Chief Gary Yew reported the north fork of the Shenandoah River crested at 13 feet in Strasburg in the early afternoon, 2 feet short of flood stage. Yew said rainfall totals varied from 3.7 inches to 4.8 inches.
The National Weather Service forecast as of 4:47 p.m. called for a flood watch to remain in effect until midnight with a 90 percent chance of showers and scattered thunderstorms, some of which could produce heavy rains. Patchy fog was expected after midnight.
Cloudy skies were expected on Thursday morning with patchy fog and a slight chance of showers in the morning and a chance of showers in the afternoon along with a slight chance of a thunderstorm. Highs were forecast for the mid-70s with a 40 percent chance of rain.
A 40 percent chance of showers is also forecast for Thursday evening with mostly cloudy skies and lows in the mid-50s.
Emergency responders in Shenandoah and Warren counties reported no serious incidents Thursday.
Yew said 44 roads were flooded in the morning, but that number had dropped to fewer than 30 by early afternoon.
"The small streams and creeks are receding fairly quickly," Yew said.
Lt. Wesley Dellinger of the Shenandoah County Sheriff's Office said his department had answered "a bunch of debris calls" but only one report of a disabled vehicle in high water on Palmyra Church Road. The disabled vehicle did not pose a danger to anyone, Dellinger said.
Warren County Fire and Rescue Chief Richard E. Mabie said crews responded to calls for a boat overturned in the river and a report of dogs trapped on an island in the western part of the county. Mabie said nothing was found at either location.
Mabie said the south fork of the river in Front Royal had risen to 10 1/12 feet by late afternoon. The crest was expected at 11 ½ feet sometime after midnight, Mabie said. Flood stage is 12 feet.
"At that level, it's just a nuisance because it might close some road," Mabie said of the crest. "As long as people are smart, and what I mean by smart is stay out of the water and don't drive through standing water, we should be fine."
Contact staff writer Joe Beck at 540-465-5137 ext. 142, or firstname.lastname@example.org