Normal University operations, including all classes, are canceled Thursday due to severe flooding in the Philadelphia area after multiple tornadoes were spotted in the Philadelphia region Wednesday.
Penn will resume normal operations on Friday, DPS announced in a community-wide email sent just after 9:30 p.m. on Thursday evening.
Students in clinical programs are to check with their respective schools about Thursday's operations, while essential University staff and workers in the University of Pennsylvania Health System are required to report to work, The Division of Public Safety announced in an email to Penn community members at 6:30 a.m.
The remnants of Hurricane Ida, which caused severe damage in Louisiana, brought high winds and heavy rain Wednesday evening and into the night. Philadelphia County was under tornado warning Wednesday evening, and Penn community members were advised to shelter in place until further notice. The severe weather forced some Penn student activities to move online Wednesday evening, including budget meetings for all of Penn's club sports teams, which were supposed to be held in person at the Pottruck.
The resulting flash flood warning Thursday morning prompted Penn to cancel classes as well as the third day of the in-person Student Activities Council fair, which was supposed to be held Thursday from 12 p.m. to 4 p.m. on College Green. Vice Chair of SAC Teresa Christensen wrote in an email to SAC clubs Thursday morning that the virtual session, originally scheduled for Thursday from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m., will instead be extended one hour and begin at 5 p.m. The SAC fair was conducted with a hybrid approach for the first time at Penn this year to give students the option of attending in person or virtually.
Despite the suspension of University operations, Van Pelt Library will remain open until 6 p.m., and Pottruck Health and Fitness Center will close as usual at 11:30 p.m. The COVID-19 testing tent at Du Bois, which usually closes at 7 p.m. on Thursdays, will close early at 2 p.m. due to the flooding.
Some campus buildings have also experienced some minor to moderate issues such as dripping windows and wet basements, which have been addressed immediately, Facilities and Real Estate Services Executive Director of Operations & Maintenance Faramarz Vakili wrote in a Sept. 2 email to The Daily Pennsylvanian.
"We are continuing to monitor some areas of campus that may be affected as the water levels change," Vakili wrote. "We are thankful to say that so far we have sustained no major damage to campus buildings."
FRES declined to provide information about which buildings have been impacted, but wrote that the majority of the flooding is located in outdoor spaces.
The Schuylkill River was observed at "Major Flooding stage" Thursday morning, according to the Philadelphia Office of Emergency Management at 7:23 a.m. The Philadelphia OEM urged people to stay home and avoid the road, as the flooding forced the closure of major roadways including the Vine Street Expressway (I-676), Schuylkill Expressway (I-76), and MLK Drive. Water flowed onto the Vine Street Expressway and cut Center City in half from 22nd Street to Broad Street, NBC10 Philadelphia reported.
The Schuylkill River reached its highest level since Oct. 4, 1869 on Thursday, according to NBC10 Philadelphia. The observed crest of 16.35 feet is 0.65 feet less than the all-time highest crest of 17 feet observed 152 years ago.
NBC10 Philadelphia reported the severe weather likely caused three deaths in Montgomery County, a suburb of Philadelphia. One woman died when a tree fell on her house and two others drowned in separate incidents.
Senior reporter Hannah Gross contributed reporting.
This is a developing story that was last updated at 9:38 p.m. Please check back here for updates.