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Panhandle under flood watch

February 17, 1998|By RICHARD F. BELISLE, Waynesboro

Panhandle under flood watch

CHARLES TOWN, W.Va. - A flash flood watch for Jefferson County, the rest of the Eastern Panhandle and a wide area stretching across Western Maryland was issued Monday night by the National Weather Service.

The watch comes as a new coastal storm brews that could dump up to 3 inches of rain east of the Blue Ridge Mountains.

The most immediate danger to the Tri-State area will be in low-lying areas that usually flood, and in smaller creeks and streams, said Christopher Strong, a meteorologist at the National Weather Service in Sterling, Va.

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"You can expect a quick rise in some of the smaller streams rather than in the major rivers," he said.

Strong said the weather service is being "cautiously optimistic" that the storm, which is expected to hit hardest this morning, won't raise water levels much on the Shenandoah and Potomac rivers.

Widespread rain, sometimes heavy at times, plus high winds with gusts up to 50 miles per hour are expected this morning, meteorologists said.

"It will be for a short duration," Strong said. He predicted that about an inch of rain will fall in the Tri-State area.

Water levels in the region's two big rivers have been staying high in recent days, he said.

On Monday night, the level of the Potomac River at Hancock was 9 feet. Flood stage there is 30 feet, Strong said.

In Williamsport, the Potomac was up to 7.6 feet. Flood stage there is 23 feet. Farther down river at Shepherdstown, W.Va., the river had also reached 7.6 feet. Flood stage there is 15 feet, Strong said.

A spokesman for emergency services in Jefferson County said small streams like the Opequon, which flows through the county, could cause problems.

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