Storm brings moderate flooding after dry spell
Six to 10 inches of rain over the past five days, along with tides and strong winds out of the east, produced flooding across the Washington region, which had been unusually dry for weeks, forecasters said Saturday.
In Virginia, looding was reported at the Chesapeake Bay Bridge-Tunnel near Norfolk, along the James River at Jamestown, and on the Chesapeake Bay near Yorktown, the National Weather Service said.
Tidal flooding Sunday and Monday in coastal areas is expected to make things worse.
Minor to moderate flooding occurred on the Potomac River in Alexandria and Georgetown and along the District’s Washington Channel, where water inundated walkways and partially submerged park benches.
Sandbags were in place at a waterfront building at the headquarters of the National Mall and Memorial Parks on the Channel. The Potomac spilled from its banks in East Potomac Park, and walkways around the Tidal Basin near the Jefferson Memorial were submerged.
Some areas on the Severn River in Annapolis, the Patuxent River near Bowie, and several places on the Northern Neck also saw high water, according to the National Weather Service.
There also was flooding in Ocean City, Md., and Wachapreague, Va. Beaches from New Jersey to the Carolinas were battered by wind and surf.
South of the Washington area, flooding conditions were worse.
More than a foot of rain fell in parts of North Carolina, said Angela Fritz of The Washington Post’s Capital Weather Gang. Little River, N.C., had 16 inches of rain through Saturday morning and North Myrtle Beach, S.C., had more than 15 inches.
In some cases, rain has fallen at the rate of two inches an hour.
President Obama declared a state of emergency in South Carolina on Saturday, ordering federal aid to supplement state and local assistance and authorizing federal agencies to coordinate disaster relief efforts, Reuters reported.
Video footage showed flooded Charleston streets. The National Weather Service issued flashflood warnings for several counties in southeastern South Carolina.
“Although widespread heavy rain has diminished over the last few hours, periods of additional heavy rainfall [are] expected later,” the National Weather Service said Saturday afternoon. “This additional rainfall will exacerbate any ongoing flooding and possibly produce new areas of flash flooding.”
In the Washington area, Saturday was a misty, blustery day with light rain and buildings shrouded in fog. The Sunday forecast was for more of the same.
Since Tuesday, the region has received “about six to eight inches of rain, maybe eight to 10 inches in parts of Loudoun County,” Luis Rosa, senior forecaster at the National Weather Service office in Sterling, Va., said Saturday.
“We had more rain on Tuesday than we had the past two days,” Rosa said.
All that was without a direct visit from Hurricane Joaquin, which stayed over the Atlantic Ocean, 500 miles off the coast, Rosa said.
“We had been in a dry spell,” he said. Fairfax County along Interstate 95 to Fredericksburg had been parched, as well as the Potomac River Basin out to Western Maryland. “All those areas were designated abnormally dry,” he said.
The sun, missing in action for almost a week, is expected to make a limited return Monday.