- The Washington Times - Sunday, April 15, 2007

A powerful nor’easter that pounded the eastern United States with wind and pouring rain yesterday caused flooding and hazardous driving conditions in and around the District.

More than 2 inches of rain fell on many parts of the District, Maryland and Virginia, the National Weather Service said.

The Weather Service issued a flood warning for the area until 9 last night, but much of the heavy rain tapered off by the early afternoon. The Weather Service called for mostly cloudy skies today with a slight chance of showers before 2 p.m. and a high near 53.

Authorities reported dozens of weather-related incidents and accidents that closed roads and intersections.

Among the most serious was a mudslide and flooding that closed the Baltimore-Washington Parkway near Linthicum in both directions for several hours. The roadway reopened at about 3:30 p.m.

In the District, Beach Drive in Northwest was closed in both directions between Franklin Drive and Connecticut Avenue because of flooding, and a sinkhole closed the intersection of South Capitol Street and Firth Sterling Avenue in Southeast.

Officials also were concerned about flooding.

The Regency Square apartment complex in District Heights flooded with a foot of water yesterday morning. Residents called firefighters, who dug trenches to divert water away from the complex.

In Alexandria, officials piled sandbags along the Potomac River as forecasters predicted high waves.

The Weather Service received reports of downed trees and power lines and heavy flooding that shut down dozens of roads, including Route 76 in Frederick County, Md., Route 50 in Loudoun County, Va., and Burke Road in Fairfax County.

Power companies said the storm did not produce widespread power outages.

In Southwest Virginia, morning rains turned into afternoon snow with wind gusts of up to 60 mph.

“We’ve had to pretty much duck all kinds of weather patterns today,” said Donato Cacciapaglia, a weather specialist with the National Weather Service in Blacksburg.

Minor flooding, mudslides and debris were reported, and flood warnings were in effect through today for areas along the James and Dan rivers.

Virginia State Police worked about 30 traffic accidents on Interstates 81 and 77 because of the snow and ice.

Colonial Beach Mayor George W. “Pete” Bone Jr. said the storm caused no serious problems there, “but there’s water standing everywhere.”

“I live three blocks from the water, and I’ve got bream jumping in my back yard,” he said.

The heavy rains and thunderstorms extended from Florida up the coast to New England. Wind gusted to 71 mph at Charleston, S.C.

The Coast Guard had warned mariners to head for port because wind up to 55 mph was expected to generate seas up to 20 feet high, Petty Officer Etta Smith said yesterday in Boston.

Airlines canceled more than 400 flights at the New York area’s three major airports, said Steve Coleman, a spokesman for the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey. John F. Kennedy International Airport, on the wind-exposed south side of Long Island, had sustained wind of 30 to 35 mph with gusts to 48 mph, said weather service meteorologist Gary Conte.

More than 5.5 inches of rain fell in the New York region by last evening, the National Weather Service said.

Gov. Eliot Spitzer sent 3,200 National Guard members to potential flood areas. On Saturday, he said the storm could cause the most flooding New York has seen since a December 1992 nor’easter, which washed away beach and sand dunes, knocked out power and left thousands of people temporarily homeless, their houses standing in feet of water.

The storm forced the cancellation of five major league baseball games yesterday, including the Nationals’ game in New York, and gave runners in today’s Boston Marathon something to worry about besides Heartbreak Hill. The race-day forecast called for 3 to 5 inches of rain, start temperatures in the 30s and wind gusts of up to 25 mph.

The storm also caused flash flooding in the mountains of southern West Virginia, where emergency services personnel rescued nearly two dozen people from homes and cars in Logan and Boone counties early yesterday. Two persons were unaccounted for.

“Our houses sit in the middle of the hill, and it’s all around us. I’m surrounded, it’s like a lake completely around us,” said Samantha Walker, 29, who was visiting her grandmother in Matheny, W.Va. “We can’t get out even if we wanted to get out.”

Dozens of homes were destroyed or blown off their foundations in South Carolina’s Sumter County, but authorities didn’t know whether the cause was a tornado or straight-line wind, said county emergency management director Robert Baker Jr. One person was killed and four were seriously injured, he said.

The storm system had been blamed for five deaths on Friday in Kansas and Texas.

Storm warnings and watches were posted along the East Coast, with flood warnings extending from North Carolina to the New York area. Winter storm warnings were in effect for parts of New England and eastern New York state.

Airlines canceled more than 350 flights at the New York area’s three major airports, and more cancellations were expected throughout the day.

Ferry service to Fire Island, off the south shore of Long Island, was halted, and New York City opened nine emergency storm shelters in flood-prone locations. Authorities also deployed 3,200 National Guard members to potential flood areas.

In central Florida, a tornado damaged mobile homes in Dundee but no injuries were reported, police said.

n This article is based in part on wire service reports.

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