Two storms pounded Pittsburgh on Friday, cutting electricity to hospitals and universities and submerging vehicles in a flash flood that killed three and left one missing and presumed dead.
Water from the Allegheny River overwhelmed drivers on Washington Boulevard in the Highland Park neighborhood, leading some motorists to swim to safety.
Rescue crews used inflatable boats to reach marooned drivers, some of whom said the water rose 6 feet and covered their vehicles. Bob Bailey, 79, of Penn Hills, was rescued from the roof of his car.
"I can swim a little bit and was looking at a tree branch," he told the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. "I heard one woman yelling for help, but the water was coming down so fast, I couldn't see. I've never seen nothing like this in my life. Lord have mercy."
The flooding occurred in the late afternoon after the city was drenched with up to 3 inches of rain in an hour, the National Weather Service reported.
The three victims, whose names were not released, were found in the same minivan, according to KDKA-TV.
A fourth person, a 70-year-old woman, was missing and presumed dead, Police Chief Nate Harper said.
The water had receded by Friday evening, but mud-caked Washington Boulevard will remain closed through today as emergency crews work to clear stranded cars.
Tara Howes, 34, of Gibsonia, told the Tribune-Review that "manhole covers started popping up, and it looked like the road exploded, and the waters came up really fast. I saw people swimming on the sides of the road. It was pretty scary."
The flash floods hit an area that experienced serious flooding last month.
Earlier Friday, another storm caused power outages that led the University of Pittsburgh to close for the day. Parts of Carlow and Carnegie Mellon universities also lost electricity.
Flights at Pittsburgh International Airport were grounded because of lightning just after 3 p.m., a spokeswoman said.
Two hospitals operated on emergency power after rains flooded a substation.