Park service urges safety during Christmas storm

Bushkill. Strong winds, heavy rain, and snow melt could lead to flash flooding and power outages in the Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area.

| 24 Dec 2020 | 03:37

Are you planning to take a trip over the river and through Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area in the next few days? If so, park rangers suggest checking the park’s website or Facebook page for updated information and current conditions, including road and facility closures, before you head out.

A long period of moderate to heavy rain is expected throughout the area, beginning this afternoon and continuing into early Christmas morning. Forecasters are calling for rainfall amounts of 1.5 to 3 inches with localized amounts up to 4 possible. Strong winds with gusts of 40 to 50 mph could cause scattered power outages and downed trees. The combination of strong winds, high humidity and daytime temperatures, and heavy rainfall will cause rapid snow melt and could lead to flash flooding on streams and in low-lying areas and in areas with poor drainage.

Temperatures are expected to drop significantly on Friday evening causing freezing on wet roads and other surfaces.

The Delaware River corridor, including all access points within the national recreation area, is closed to all users in anticipation of a swift rise in water levels over the next 36 hours.

Per park regulations, the river corridor is closed when river levels reach 15 feet at the Montague gauge, or when conditions are hazardous. The river is currently expected to crest at 17.7 feet at the Montague gauge at 7 a.m. on Saturday, Dec. 26. Flood state at the Montague gauge is 25 feet; action stage is 23 feet. At the Tocks Island gauge downstream river levels are expected to top 18 feet at 7 am on Saturday morning; flood stage there is 21 feet and action stage is 20 feet. River level predictions are subject to change and are being monitored closely by park staff.

“With the combination of high and frigid water, swift currents, increased debris, and slick banks, this is not the time to try out that new kayak or fishing gear you got for Christmas,” warns River District Ranger Michael Macksoud. “Conditions on and near the river, and around streams, will be extremely hazardous as water levels rise and fall, currents become dangerously fast, and debris is carried downstream. For your safety, and the safety of rescue teams, it’s best to observe from a distance.”

“And never drive around barriers blocking a flooded or closed road or attempt to drive through flood waters,” added Chief Ranger Eric Lisnik. According to the National Weather Service, it takes just 6 inches of fast-moving water to knock over an adult and just 12 inches of water to carry away most cars. It is never safe to drive or walk into flood waters. “We want everyone to have a wonderful and safe holiday season regardless of the weather, but to do that we need everyone to drive carefully, stay alert, and avoid travel entirely if you can.”

Additional flood safety information is available on the National Weather Service website:

River levels can be monitored through the National Weather Service’s Advanced Hydrologic Prediction Service website:

For information about the park and any impacts or road closures, visit or