Effects of Ivan on the way

September 17, 2004|by GREGORY T. SIMMONS

Although Hurricane Ivan was downgraded Thursday to a tropical storm, the region remained under a flood watch for the weekend.

National Weather Service meteorologist Nikole Listemaa said clouds from the Ivan system were reaching into the Tri-State region Thursday afternoon, even though the storm's center was over central Alabama.

Listemaa said those clouds were a precursor to the weather that is on the way, although models on Thursday showed the storm's center likely would take a turn toward the south on Saturday near the North Carolina-Virginia line.

Listemaa said Ivan's track has been continuing to change. It "meanders around, kind of stalls. ... Where he actually goes could change," she said.


Rain was expected to begin falling in the region late Thursday or early today and to continue at least through Saturday.

Locally, the system could drop as much as 5 to 10 inches, Listemaa said, but the higher risk areas were in higher elevations along the Blue Ridge Mountains and to the west.

That rain could produce flash floods today and Saturday, and a risk of river flooding exists on Sunday and Monday, Listemaa said.

Flood watches - which means conditions are favorable for flooding - were posted for Washington County; Jefferson, Berkeley and Morgan counties in West Virginia; and Fulton and Franklin counties in Pennsylvania.

The National Weather Service was predicting that Potomac River levels at most points would rise to hazardous levels by Saturday afternoon. The weather service advises against most recreational uses of the river at hazardous levels.

The weather service said flooding could occur along the Potomac River if predictions of 41/2 to 7 inches of rain this weekend are accurate.

Trina Heiser, a forecast technician with the National Weather Service, said it was possible that the Potomac River could crest above flood stage at several points:

  • At Shepherdstown, W.Va., the river could crest at 22 feet, 7 feet above flood stage of 15 feet, Sunday.

  • At Paw Paw, W.Va., where flood stage is 25 feet, the river could crest at 34 feet to 38 feet Sunday.

  • At Hancock, where flood stage is 30 feet, the river could crest at 31 to 35 feet Sunday.

Staff reporter Brian Shappell contributed to this story.

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