'Major threat from storm has passed,' county says

September 29, 2010|From staff reports

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Washington County appears to have been spared the worst of a storm system that moved up the East Coast on Thursday, but the threat of flooding remains.

As of 2 p.m. Thursday, Washington County was still expected to receive between 3 and 5 inches of rainfall during the day's weather event, but the major threat from the storm had passed, according to a county news release.

At that hour, the Washington County Emergency Operations Center reported light to moderate rain falling, with a few locations of flooding on roads, according to the release.


Flooding was reported on Yale Drive and West Memorial Boulevard. Other roadways are expected to flood as additional precipitation is received, the release said.

Marsh Run in the area of Bakersville Road was experiencing minor flooding, the release said.

The Potomac River is still well below flood stages by midafternoon Thursday but is forecast to crest near action stage at 1 p.m. Friday, the release said.

The Conococheague Creek is forecast to crest about 2.5 feet above flood stage by noon Friday.

The National Weather Service advised county officials that the Potomac River along Washington County is now expected to crest very near 14 feet, which is below the action stage of 15 feet and flood stage of 23 feet).

A flash flood watch remained in effect in Washington County.

A flash flood warning that had covered the area east of Interstate 81 expired at 2 p.m., the release said.

However, the weather service has issued a flood warning for Conococheague Creek at Fairview, Opequon Creek in Berkeley County, W.Va., the Potomac River at Point of Rocks, Md., and the Monocacy River near Frederick, Md.

The weather service was still forecasting 3 to 5 inches of rain from this weather event, but the rain is expected to taper off in the evening hours, the release said.

Washington County partially activated the Emergency Operations Center at 4 a.m. and maintained its modified status with minimal staffing through the day, the release said.

County residents are advised to be vigilant as the storm passes, avoid low-lying areas, and not drive through standing water on the roads. Obey all traffic signs, especially those warning of road flooding.

The county release said motorists should obey all traffic signs, especially those warning of road flooding.

Frederick County Public Schools spokeswoman Cathy Menzel said at 11:50 a.m. that there were no plans to dismiss students early.

However, all FCPS-sponsored after-school and evening activities for Thursday have been postponed or canceled.

As of 3:09 p.m. Thursday, Hagerstown weather observer Greg Keefer's website,, reported that 1.80 inches of rain had fallen since midnight.

In Berkeley County, W.Va., moderate flooding was expected along Opequon Creek.

The National Weather Service said the creek is expected to exceed its 10-foot flood stage near Martinsburg by Thursday night and rise to nearly 13 feet by early Friday afternoon.

In Franklin County, Pa., flooding was reported south of King's Lane in Lemasters, Pa.

Atmospheric conditions trigger false alarms

Hagerstown Fire Department spokesman Mike Weller said Thursday afternoon that there was "a sharp increase" in false activations of smoke alarms in the city as the storm front moved through.

Responding to the false alarms kept fire crews busy all day, according to Weller.

"I haven't seen anything like this in 15 years," he said.

Weller said the alarms were triggered by a combination of low barometric pressure and high humidity accompanying the tropical depression.

To prevent false alarms, Weller suggested that residents turn on their air conditioning or turn on a fan.

Upper Potomac River advisory issued

The Maryland Natural Resources Police announced that boating and other recreational use of the Upper Potomac River, including its creeks and streams, should be avoided, based on information received from the National Weather Service and the Maryland Emergency Management Agency.

This advisory is from Sept. 30 through Oct. 4,and will be updated at that time if necessary.

"Due to recent precipitation, river levels are hazardous for recreational use on the entire main stem of the Upper Potomac River from Cumberland to Little Falls, Md.," the announcement said.

"Hazardous stages are water levels which pose a threat to non-whitewater vessels, tubers, swimmers and other recreational users. They are caused by wave action, water velocity, and treacherous currents. This hazardous condition may exist on tributaries of the Potomac River.

" This warning does not apply to professionally guided river trips. The public is reminded that river travel involves risks. Water and boating safety should be of utmost importance. The Maryland Natural Resources Police remind boaters to always wear a life jacket. It is mandatory to wear a USCG approved life jacket while boating on the upper Potomac River from November 15 to May 15 each year.

"For the latest information on Potomac River conditions between Cumberland and Little Falls, call the National Weather Service at 703-996-2200."

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