- The Washington Times - Thursday, August 12, 2004

The remnants of Tropical Storm Bonnie and Hurricane Charley are forecast to dump up to 7 inches of rain on the D.C. metropolitan area in the next two days, prompting the National Weather Service to issue a flash-flood warning for most of Virginia, Maryland, the District and West Virginia.

The flash floods would be a result of ground saturation levels so high the ground can’t absorb any more water — especially the large amount in a short period of time expected from the storms, said Jackie Hale, National Weather Service spokeswoman.

The area’s saturation levels are largely the result of a wet July — the rainiest since 1975.

The remnants of Bonnie are expected to hit the District full force this afternoon, with Charley’s rainfall following close on its heels tomorrow morning. Both storms are traveling northeast up the East Coast. Because they are coming toward the District from inland instead of straight from the Atlantic Ocean, they will not bring extreme winds such as those Tropical Storm Isabel brought last year, Ms. Hale said.

Potomac Electric Power Co. and Dominion power companyhave said they are prepared for Bonnie and Charley no matter what the storms bring. Officials from both companies said they are monitoring the storms and are prepared to respond to any power outages.

In September, Isabel left nearly 2 million area residents without power for more than a week. About 750 trees were reported downed in the District and Prince George’s County, and 200 roads in Montgomery County were closed because of fallen trees and power lines.

Pepco says that it has been more aggressive in outage prevention work this year through careful tree trimming and tree removal. Because of the soil saturation level, however, they fear falling trees and power outages may be inevitable.

Outages caused by neglected or diseased trees can be prevented through proper care, said Ronald Weaver Jr., owner of RJ’s Tree Service in Rixeyville, Va. Thinning dead limbs and feeding trees to maintain the roots can help ensure stability, he said.

“The secret is to have the small limbs removed while thinning out the tree and having it fed at least twice a year,” Mr. Weaver said. Many trees, he said, fall because of a combination of bad roots and soggy ground.

Preparing the home for bad weather also can prevent damage.

To avoid problems from the storm, check gutters and drains for blockage, make sure sump pumps are working, and check caulking around windows and doors, said Paul McCoy, project general manager at Centennial Contractors Enterprise in the District.

Also, secure patio furniture against wind, and stock up on emergency lighting supplies.

Home Depot is expecting an influx of customers in search of sandbag materials, flashlights, generators and rain gear to prepare for flooding, said Brian Dennison, assistant manager at the national chain’s Rhode Island Avenue NE location.

The flash-flood warning for Bonnie ends at noon today but could be extended through tomorrow because of Charley.


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