The National Weather Service issued a flash flood watch Friday for all of South Jersey and the surrounding areas.

“The rain is on the way, by 8 (Friday),” said meteorologist Lance Franck of National Weather Service based in Mount Holly, Burlington County.

Showers and thunderstorms with heavy rain will expand into South Jersey, according to the National Weather Service.

Additional waves of showers and thunderstorms with heavy rain will then continue to impact the area Friday through Saturday morning.

During this time, rainfall amounts will generally range from 2 to 4 inches.

Phil Sartorio, community development director, Hamilton Township, said the municipality is preparing for the worst but praying for the best concerning the storm.

Three sluice gates have been opened in Lake Lenape, Sartorio said. A sluice gate is a sliding gate or device for controlling the flow of water.

“They are lowering the lake level in anticipation of heavy rains that have been forecast,” Sartorio said. “We have had 3 inches of rain earlier this week, and the water level in the rivers are already high.”

The water levels have come down a bit during the week, but they are still high.

“They want to make sure that if we do get the amount of rainfall, particularly upstream, that the lake will be able to contain it,” Sartorio said.

The last time all three sluice gates were open was Hurricane Irene in August 2011, Sartorio said.

Irene was the seventh costliest hurricane in this country’s history.

The Great Egg Harbor River has water coming down from Berlin, Camden County, and Gloucester County, and it all flows into Lake Lenape, Sartorio said.

“We want to make sure that we don’t have so much water in the lake that it backs up and floods out the streets and neighborhoods in the township,” Sartorio said.

The Public Works Department is monitoring the situation and coordinating with the Police Department, Sartorio said.

Torrential rain falling in a short period of time will result in rapidly rising water levels along streams and creeks and in areas of poor drainage. Significant roadway flooding may occur, the National Weather Service said.

South Jersey locations that were just affected by heavy rain since last weekend will be particularly vulnerable to flash flooding.

A flash flood watch means conditions may develop that lead to flash flooding, and flash flooding is a very dangerous situation, the weather service said.

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Twenty years as a staff writer in the features department, specializing in entertainment and the arts at The Press of Atlantic City.

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