- The Washington Times - Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Heavy rain and flash flooding caused traffic trouble for commuters returning to work Tuesday, and the National Weather Service said more nasty weather may be on the way.

Heavy wind blew down trees, motorists had to be rescued on flooded roadways and thousands went without power Tuesday as a moist flow interacted with a warm front present for the region’s weekend Memorial Day celebrations.

“There definitely was a heavy dose of rain, which fell on the area in a very short amount of time. Its not unusual this time of year, as we transition from spring to summer, for us to see that,” said Steve Zubrick, a National Weather Service meteorologist.

A flash-flood warning was issued for the D.C. metropolitan area Tuesday morning as up to 3 inches of rain fell on parts of Loudoun and Fairfax counties in Northern Virginia. The Weather Service said 3.6 inches of rain fell near Washington Dulles International Airport, and up to 4 inches fell near Laurel and Greenbelt.

Drivers experienced major delays across the area because of standing water, with problems reported on sections of Route 50 and Route 15 in Loudoun County, as well as portions of Mount Olivet Road and 13th Street in Northeast Washington.

Three cars were trapped on a stretch of Rhode Island Avenue in Northeast underneath the CSX train tracks after the road flooded about 4:45 a.m. Fire crews were forced to rescue the stranded motorists using inflatable, motorized rubber boats.

Alan Etter, a fire department spokesman, said the road flooded because storm drains underneath had clogged with trash. Mr. Etter said crews from the Department of Public Works cleared the drains within 30 minutes, and the water quickly receded.

“We had a lot of rain come in very quickly, and sometimes the drains get clogged so water builds up,” he said. “That area is actually a little notorious for clogged drains when we have rain like this.”

Strong wind blew down trees on busy motorways during the morning rush, with one downed tree clogging the George Washington Memorial Parkway’s southbound lane on Roosevelt Island.

Pepco spokesman Bob Hainey said about 5,500 residents were without power throughout the day, with major outages near the 700 block of Harvard Avenue in Northwest and sections of Forest Heights and Oxon Hill in Prince George’s County.

Heavy rain gave way to a light drizzle by Tuesday afternoon, but the wet weather may not have been over.

Mr. Zubrick said an area flood watch would remain in effect until 8 a.m. Wednesday, as moisture to the south and southeast threatened to bring more rain and potential flooding to the region.

“So long as that humidity stays stationary, we won’t see much, but if it moves north, we could see some heavy rain as early as Wednesday morning,” he said.

John Lisle, spokesman for the D.C. Department of Transportation, said the morning commute Wednesday should be clear, except possibly for areas in Northeast along Rhode Island Avenue that were affected Tuesday.

“If the weather stays bad, the problems will be in the same regions,” he said.

Sarah Riordan contributed to this report.

LOAD COMMENTS ()

 

Click to Read More

Click to Hide