Forecasters predict Potomac will flood

March 21, 2003|by MARLO BARNHART

Heavy rainfall Thursday may force the Potomac River out of its banks at Shepherdstown, W.Va., early Saturday, forecasters with the National Weather Service in Sterling, Va., said.

The river forecast division predicted the river will reach 18.8 feet at 1 a.m. Saturday. Flood stage at Shepherdstown is 15 feet. At 4 p.m. Thursday, the level was at 7.9 feet and rising.

Weather observers said parts of the Tri-State area got as much as 31/2 inches of rain over the past two days. Most locations recorded around 11/2 inches before it began tapering off Thursday evening.


Hagerstown weather observer Greg Keefer said 1.61 inches of rain had fallen in Hagerstown by 8 p.m. Thursday.

The rain was having an impact all along the Potomac and on streams adjacent to the river, forecasters said at 4 p.m. Thursday.

  • Hancock registered 9.7 feet. The crest is expected at 7 p.m. today when the river reaches 20.6 feet. Flood stage is 30 feet.

  • Paw Paw, W.Va., was at 12.1 feet. The river was expected to crest at 1 p.m. today at 20.8 feet. Flood stage is 25 feet.

  • Harpers Ferry, W.Va., was at 7.6 feet. The crest is expected to be 16.2 feet on Saturday at 4 a.m. Flood stage is 18 feet.

  • Williamsport was at 6.4 feet. The crest is expected at 8 p.m. today at 19.2 feet. Flood stage is 23 feet.

  • Point of Rocks was at 7.1 feet. The crest there is expected at 4 a.m. Saturday at 16.2 feet. Flood stage is 16 feet.

Boating and other recreational activities on the upper Potomac River should be avoided through the weekend because of hazardous water levels, the Maryland Natural Resources Police said Thursday.

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