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Heavy Rain Causes Once-In-A-Blue-Moon Flooding in Massachusetts

August 1, 1985

Undated (AP) _ The heaviest hour’s rainfall in 30 years drenched Massachusetts on Thursday, knocking out highways and subways and leaving as much as 6 feet of water on streets, while a dam leak forced residents to temporarily flee their homes in southwestern Pennsylvania.

A small tornado that touched down Thursday at a flea market in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., slightly injured one person and damaged a fence, authorities said. Tornadoes on Wednesday downed trees in Philadelphia and south-central Pennsylvania, and a couple was killed in a weather-related traffic accident on a rain-soaked highway in Elizabeth Township, police said.

In western Massachusetts, the storm drenched Worcester early Thursday.

The Centrum arena in Worcester stood 4 feet deep in water, and at least one street was under 6 feet of water. At least 30 cars were up to their roofs in water, police Capt. Reginald Needham said.

Two Worcester firefighters swam through neck-deep water and rescued a couple trapped in their car, and police Lt. Paul M. Lukas scooped up a 10-inch bass while checking out a road washout, police said.

At Logan International Airport in Boston, the 2.03 inches of rain recorded between 2 a.m. and 3 a.m. was the most recorded in an hour since a thunderstorm on July 10, 1955, dumped 2.10 inches on the city.

″It was a mess out there, the worst I’ve seen since the storm of ’78,″ said Metropolitan Police spokesman Larry Gillis at Boston headquarters. ″Luckily, water goes away.″

Wednesday night’s moon was the month’s second full moon, which folk wisdom says causes flooding, said Joel R. Gendler, astronomer at the Worcester Science Center. The next ″blue moon″ comes in May 1988.

Altogether, 4.63 inches fell at Logan overnight and about 4 inches fell over parts of western Massachusetts.

Police closed parts of Route 128 in Needham, a Boston suburb, as well as all of a major commuter road in Boston for several hours. The rain also flooded a Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority tunnel, temporarily suspending subway service on one line.

The rainfall brought the total in Worcester this year close to normal levels, but it may not have reduced the area’s water shortage, said Thomas J. Holmes, chief weather service meteorologist at Worcester Airport.

In Labelle, Pa., workers continued efforts to shore up a dam holding 60 acres of coal processing wastes at a site about a mile from the Monongahela River.

Curt Edgarton of the U.S. Mine Safety and Health Administration said he has been watching the dam for nine days because of cracks that developed.

″I don’t see any imminent danger at all,″ he said.

In Florida, a waterspout came ashore at Maderia Beach near St. Petersburg on the Gulf of Mexico, overturning a large garbage bin. The waterspout, a tornado over water, was described as small, as was the tornado in Broward County.

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