Heavy rains and tidal flooding submerged roadways, stranded vehicles and downed power lines and trees Tuesday as a storm plowed through the Baltimore region, leaving parts of Maryland dealing with a wet cleanup.
Wind gusted over 40 mph with rainfall rates nearing one inch per hour as darkness set in, while a powerful low-pressure system with a passing cold front crossed the state. The National Weather Service predicted winds as high as 55 mph before midnight, compounding the steady rain that fell throughout the day.
The Baltimore-Washington Office of the National Weather Service had said parts of the region could experience up to half an inch of rain per hour between 5-10 p.m., and that wind gusts between 40-50 mph are expected during the same time.
WJZ-TV meteorologist Steve Sosna said the water won’t recede quickly, making the prospect of coastal flooding overnight dangerous.
“If you have plans to travel tonight, just don’t do it if you live near those coastal floodwaters,” Sosna said Tuesday evening. “The reason why is we’re now seeing the core of the stronger winds. These waves are going to get larger and flooding that we showed you earlier, which was impressive, is going to be even greater, so that’s just destructive. "
The forecast for Wednesday and Thursday, though, is brighter. The weather service called for a 20% chance of rain Wednesday, a high near 49, and a southwest wind 14 to 22 mph, with gusts as high as 39 mph.
The area would get a chance to dry out on Thursday, with a forecast of sunny skies and minimal winds before a chance of rain Friday.
The weather prompted the Baltimore City, Baltimore County, Anne Arundel County and Howard County school systems to announce that schools will open two hours late on Wednesday.
Howard County’s flood warning will remain in effect until 12:30 a.m. Wednesday, a spokesperson said.
Officials credited two new retention ponds that hold more than 7.5 million gallons of water during storms with preventing major flooding in Ellicott City.
“Thus far, Howard County has received approximately 2.5 inches of rainfall throughout the day. Currently, water levels are remaining steady and there is no flooding on Main Street in Ellicott City,” the spokesperson said Tuesday evening.
The Chesapeake Bay Bridge reopened at 9 p.m. with limited wind restrictions. Baltimore-Washington Thurgood Marshall International Airport advised travelers that the weather could affect flights.
Tow trucks began moving vehicles as waves formed outside of the homes on Aliceanna Street between Wolfe and Washington streets around 7:30 p.m. Areas along Clipper Mill Road and Robb Street were flooded by 6 p.m. Fire officials arrived on standby for reports of downed power lines on westbound Cold Spring Lane.
Waters at Baltimore’s Inner Harbor rose and crested walkways near Pratt and Light streets. Other streets in Fells Point in Baltimore began flooding around 5 p.m., and parts of Annapolis saw flooding as early as 2:30 p.m.
City Dock in Annapolis was completely flooded late Tuesday, WJZ reported, with roads blocked and restaurants and businesses closed.
Annapolis officials extended flood warnings for the city through 11 p.m. Wednesday.
The U.S. Naval Academy called off all sporting events Tuesday and closed the commissary and visitors center because of the weather as parts of Annapolis flooded.
A photo shared on social media from a Fox45 reporter showed the Patapsco River, which runs between Baltimore and Howard counties and just outside historic Ellicott City, was close to hitting the top of the riverbank around 4:30 p.m.
Roads in historic Ellicott City looked wet but not flooded as the rain fell and businesses closed up shop for the day, according to WJZ, the Baltimore Banner’s media partner.
The storm even had an impact on wildlife. The Phoenix Wildlife Center in Baldwin said small, softball-sized birds called dovkies were being blown onto the shore. The birds are oceangoing and shouldn’t be fed if found, but rather placed in a small box with air holes and a pillowcase, the wildlife center said.
As the storm rolled through the evening, BGE reported scattered power outages around the area, with 828 outages impacting more than 37,000 customers around 8:30 p.m. Power outages can be reported online or by texting OUT to MYBGE (69243) or via the utility company’s free mobile app.
Forecasters issued a flood watch for the region beginning at 1 p.m. along with a storm warning ahead of heavy rainfall. Officials also cautioned residents about forceful winds across the region, particularly in portions of Harford and Baltimore counties, as well as Anne Arundel, Calvert and St. Mary’s counties.
The Baltimore City Department of Transportation handed out sandbags in Fells Point and the 5100 block of Frederick Avenue. Annapolis authorities also set up sandbags on Dock Street in anticipation of flooding downtown.
The weather advisories prompted school systems in Anne Arundel, Harford, Howard and other counties across Maryland to dismiss students several hours early Tuesday as well as cancel after-school activities.