A month's rain in a week
The slow-moving remnants of Tropical Storm Lee continued to unload on Maryland Wednesday morning, pushing rivers ands creeks toward flood stage, inundating many roadways and slowing the morning commute to a crawl.
Barely a week into the new month and already the airport has seen nearly a full 30 day's worth of rain.
With Lee's remains stalled to our south and west, Maryland is on the receiving end of wet, tropical air flows from the Gulf and the Atlantic. Forecasters said Central Maryland can expect rain to continue in showers and thunderstorms through Monday, with probabilities declining slowly from 100 percent today and tonight, to 30 percent by Monday.
Adding to our misery, Hurricane Katia, while still more than 450 miles east of Delmarva and not expected to make landfall here, is still funneling dangerous swells onto the coast and moist tropical air to help fuel the rain forecast here for the weekend.
On top of the rain today, forecasters say there is risk of damaging wind gusts and isolated tornadoes Wednesday afternoon along the I-95 corridor.
The past 24 hours have seen more than 3.3 inches of rain in White Marsh, with more than 2 inches in places as widespread as Leonardtown in St. Mary's County, Elkton in Cecil, Williamsport in Washington County, and St. Michaels in Talbot. All these data are from the CoCoRaHS Network.
BWI-Marshall Airport is reporting 3.27 inches from Monday morning through midnight last night, 3.43 inches in all, with more to come through Monday. The average for September is 4.03 inches, Baltimore's rainiest month.
A Flash Flood Warning was posted for Baltimore City and Central Baltimore county through 12:45 p.m. Wednesday as heavy rain bands crossed the region, dropping a quick inch of rain.
Flash Flood Watches have been in effect for days, and will remain in effect at least through Wednesday evening. Forecasters said heavy showers and scattered thunderstorms stoked by the remnants of Lee are capable of adding 2 to 3 inches to the rain totals today. Some locations could see 5 inches. Forecasters said:
"VERY HEAVY RAIN MAY CAUSE RAPID RISES IN CREEKS AND STREAMS, AS WELL AS SIGNIFICANT PONDING IN URBAN AREAS. DO NOT DFRIVE THROUGH ROADWAYS COVERED WITH WATER."
"THE THREAT OF HEAVY RAIN WILL PERSIST THROUGH AT LEAST THURSDAY, WITH A CONTINUED RISK OF FLASH FLOODING."
Rivers and creeks are rising quickly. The U.S. Geological Survey is forecasting that the Potomac River at Point of Rocks, Md., which stood at 1.2 feet Wednesday morning, will crest Friday at 31 feet. Flood stage is at 16 feet.
The Susquehanna, at 3.6 feet this morning, is forecast to crest Friday at 23 feet. Flood stage is 17 feet. And the Juniata River, in south-central Pennsylvania, stood at 3.7 feet Wednesday morning. It was forecast to rise to 27 feet by Friday, five feet above flood stage.
The National Park Service declared a "Flood Emergency" Tuesday morning along the C&O Canal National Historic Park, describing what's coming as "what could be one of the top ten major floods in our area."
Areas of the park were being closed, including campgrounds, boat ramps, visitor centers and day use areas. Portable toilets were being emptied and closed on Tuesday.
"Visitors are being asked to refrain from entering the park and respect all safety barriers. There is a risk of being swept away by swift water or becoming stranded along the towpath as the waters rise," the park service advised. "The rising water will be carrying extremely hazardous debris, trees and man-made objects."
(SUN PHOTO: Frank Roylance. Main Street Ellicott aCity video from dreed876, courtesy of Sarah Angerer)