- The Washington Times - Tuesday, November 12, 2002

Yesterday's rain eased the region's dry conditions a bit, but a drought emergency still exists in Baltimore and 16 counties of Maryland, including northern Montgomery County outside the Washington Suburban Sanitary Commission service area.
"We're just glad to get the rain," said Scott Reed, assistant secretary of Natural Resources in Virginia.
"The rain over the last few weeks has helped, but we're still in drought conditions," said National Weather Service meteorologist Jim Decarufel.
Yesterday concluded with clouds, some dense fog and only a slight chance of scattered rain. Clouds and slightly cooler temperatures, with possibly some drizzle, are to continue this morning. There is a slight chance of rain this afternoon and evening.
Tomorrow, the prediction is for partly cloudy skies and cooler temperatures in the 50s.
Half an inch of rain fell by early afternoon yesterday, raising the rainfall total to above 1 inch for the month of November. Slightly less than an inch by Nov. 12 is normal.
That comes on top of more than normal rainfall for October. The previous month's surplus of 1.78 inches was more than a normal of 5 inches.
"This helps the trees, plants, shrubs and people's lawns," said Mr. Decarufel, but water reservoirs are still low and the groundwater table is still almost 8 inches below normal.
Thankfully the rains have been steady, which slows runoff and allows the water to soak into the ground, and eventually down to the water table, Mr. Decarufel said.
Yesterday's weather in the Washington region was part of a large system that in other states spawned tornadoes with 150 mph winds, killing at least 35 persons in Tennessee, Alabama, Ohio, Mississippi and Kentucky.
Winds in the Washington area didn't reach those destructive levels, but the storm did pack a punch in the area, knocking trees over and ripping off limbs, which fell across some power lines.
About 6:30 a.m., a tree fell on a 2-story house in the 7900 block of Garland Avenue in Takoma Park, said Fire Department Capt. Fred Probst.
Two residents were transmitted to the care of Red Cross.
About 4,000 power outages were reported among the 700,000 customers of Potomac Electric Power Company, but nearly all power was restored 12 hours later, said spokesman Bob Dobkin.
Virginia Power reported 600 outages but, like Pepco, reported that not all were caused by bad weather.
No significant damage was reported from tornadoes and funnel clouds spotted in Virginia's Fauquier and Harrison counties. Winds in the 50 mph range damaged some trees in Caroline and King George counties.
Environmentalists have disclosed that the two-year drought has had some beneficial effects on Chesapeake Bay.
Because of little torrential runoff from creeks, streams and rivers which contains pollutants sea grasses have flourished in the bay. The grasses put more oxygen into the water, which shelter and help the health of fish and blue crabs.
Sea grasses have spread over more than 16,000 acres of the Bay in the last year, especially around Tangier and Smith islands on the lower bay between Virginia and Maryland. Grasses now grow in approximately 85,200 acres.
But lower freshwater levels have also raised the salinity as water seeps in from the Atlantic Ocean. Higher salinity and likely diseases are prompting predictions of a poor oyster harvest.

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