June 26, 2006

Flash flooding hits rain-soaked mid-Atlantic

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Waves of heavy showers and
thunderstorms drenched Washington and the surrounding
mid-Atlantic on Sunday, triggering flash flooding that swelled
streams over their banks and shut roads throughout the region.

"Washington up through Baltimore has received between five
and seven inches of rain today and most of it was in about a
six-hour period," National Weather Service meteorologist Andy
Woodcock said.

"In many, many counties, rescues ... cars that got stuck in
water, many road closures. It's been a very bad day, he said.

Up to two more inches of rain were predicted in some
locations before showers and thunderstorms were expected to
begin tapering off around 3 a.m EDT, The National Weather
Service said.

A flash flood warning was in effect for the entire
Washington metropolitan area, which includes Montgomery and
Prince Georges counties in Maryland, Arlington and Fairfax
counties in Virginia.

The heavy rainfall in a such a short time-frame was unusual
for Washington, destroying a single-day record for June 25 that
goes back to 1870, Woodcock said.

Police blocked off traffic on major thoroughfares
throughout the region as heavy rains caused flooding of
underpasses, streams and low-lying streets, including a stretch
of Constitution Avenue, a major Washington thoroughfare, and
Massachusetts Avenue in suburban Maryland.

In Germantown, Maryland, off-duty firefighters jumped into
action to rescue a woman trapped in a car that had been caught
by water from a swollen creek, local Fox TV News reported.

"My car was stuck against the guardrail and the water
started coming up from under the car. It was up to the windows,
So I was flipping out," Patti Damiano told Fox after she was
plucked from the car. "Thank God they came and got me out."

The concluding round of the Booz Allen Classic golf
tournament in Potomac, Maryland, was suspended because of
lightning after teeing off six hours behind schedule because of
drenching rain. Play was scheduled to resume early on Monday.

The National Weather Service forecast for the area did not
look good. "I think we're going to have rain for the next
couple of days," Woodcock said. "We have the potential for more
problems, especially on Tuesday."