Monday afternoon's commute turned into a wild and woolly ride for many area residents, as freak heavy rains and flash flooding brought traffic to a crawl in many locations around the Lehigh Valley.
In the Hellertown area, shortly before 5pm, traffic backed up near the Route 412 interchange on Interstate 78, as cars attempted to exit the highway and found an artery already clogged with vehicles.
The main problem area along Route 412 was north of Cherry Lane in the city of Bethlehem--.
Earlier Monday afternoon, minor flooding was reported along Water Street in Hellertown, although by 5pm traffic appeared to be flowing normally on Water between Main Street and the Saucon Creek.
Further north, in central parts of Northampton County, problems appeared to be more serious.
In Bethlehem Township, where a flash flood warning remains in effect through 9:15pm, sections of both William Penn Highway (Easton Avenue) and Willow Park Road were closed to traffic as of earlier this evening.
William Penn Highway was closed from Hecktown Road west to a point beyond the intersection with Willow Park Road, near the Keystone Pub.
At the same time, Willow Park Road was closed from Carter Road north to William Penn Highway, and also south of Carter Road, where barricades had been set up in the road.
Nancy Run, a normally placid stream that flows along Willow Park Road, was muddy and moving very fast as nearby residents attempted to extricate the rear half of a minivan from flood waters that filled a ditch between the road and a private garage.
Meanwhile, on the other side of William Penn Highway, Bethlehem Township officials had set up barricades on Clifton Avenue at Sunset Drive, where a torrent of water was flowing downhill.
A number of motorists--already detoured from William Penn and traveling west on Clifton--opted to drive around the barricades and through rushing storm water that was at least six inches deep in places, even though safety officials recommend that anyone who encounters standing water on a roadway turn around instead of attempting to drive through it.