June 26, 2006

Mid-Atlantic hit with flooding

By Todd Eastham

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 closed roads around the region.

More rain showers, some heavy, were predicted throughout
the region but showers and thunderstorms were expected to begin
tapering off gradually toward evening on Monday, the National
Weather Service (NWS) said.

A flood warning was in effect for the entire mid-Atlantic
region including the greater Washington metropolitan area, the
NWS said on its web site. A flash flood warning was in effect
for parts of western Maryland, West Virginia and the extreme
northwestern parts of Virginia, the weather service said.

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

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

Flights into and out of mid-Atlantic airports were delayed
as much as two hours at the height of the storm late on Sunday
and early on Monday, said Rob Yingling of Metropolitan
Washington Airports Authority.

Early Monday, "some flights are on time and others are
delayed" depending on destinations, Yingling said.

As of 6 a.m., delays of 15 minutes of less were reported
for flights into and out of Ronald Reagan Washington National
Airport and Dulles International Airport, according to the
Federal Aviation Administration web site.

Mike Orenstein of the federal Office of Personnel
Management said federal offices would open on time on Monday
but the OPM had instituted an unscheduled leave policy,

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."

Local news reports in Washington reported that dozens of
homes throughout the region had been evacuated, and others
damaged by falling trees, but no casualties had been reported
as of 5 a.m. EDT.

Some 14,000 Dominion power customers in Virginia were
without electricity while some 9,200 PEPCO customers in
Maryland and the District of Columbia had lost power, WUSA
(CBS) television news reported.

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."