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Flooding in some areas expected to worsen as day goes on

Areas near Conococheague, Antietam creeks are hardest hit

March 11, 2011|By DAN DEARTH and DAVE McMILLION | dan.dearth@herald-mail.com; davem@herald-mail.com
  • A stream along Marsh Pike north of Hagerstown was nearly overflowing its banks Friday morning.
By Dan Dearth/Staff Writer

The head of the Washington County Highway Department said the worst flooding in some parts of the county won’t come until after sunset tonight.

That’s when rain from Thursday’s heavy downpours will make its way from higher elevations to low-lying areas, Washington County Highway Department Director Ed Plank said.

“Based on the reports we’re getting, it won’t crest until sunset,” Plank said Friday morning. “We’re hoping people stay out of the high waters because it’s very dangerous.”

Plank said the hardest hit areas were around Conococheague Creek and Antietam Creek north of Hagerstown.

Heavy flooding was reported in those spots, Plank said, but it was expected to get worse later today.

Plank said highway department crews were busy Thursday and Friday putting out high-water signs. Unlike snow storms, when plows are used to remove snow, the only thing the highway department can do is wait for the high waters to recede.

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Hagerstown Public Works Director Eric Deike said his department sent out only one worker Thursday to close Memorial Boulevard between Potomac Street and Maryland Avenue.

That low-lying area often floods during heavy rains. It was open to traffic by 8 a.m. Friday.

Deike said Hagerstown’s roads typically don’t flood unless a storm drain gets clogged.

Periodic heavy rain, at times accompanied by summer-like thunder and lightning, pounded the Hagerstown area Thursday night.

At 10:41 a.m. Friday, flood warnings remained in effect for Conococheague Creek in Washington County, Opequon Creek near Martinsburg, W.Va., and the Potomac River at Harpers Ferry, W.Va., according to the National Weather Service.

The warning for Conococheague Creek was extended until Saturday night, the weather service said.

At 10 a.m. Friday, the creek crested 13.0 feet at Fairview, five feet above flood stage, according to the weather service.

The creek is not expected to recede below flood stage until Saturday evening, the NWS said.

At 9 a.m., Washington County Emergency Services gave the following preliminary list of road closures in the county:

  • Beaver Creek Road, near Cool Hollow
  • Wishard Road, in the Fairview area

Problems also were reported on Kemps Mill Road and Gruber Road at Ashton Road.

A flood warning for small streams in Franklin and Fulton counties in Pennsylvania was lifted by early Friday afternoon, according to the weather service.

The following Franklin County roads were known to be obstructed by high water as of 9:30 a.m. Friday, according to Franklin County Emergency Services:

  • Leafmore Road in the area of Back Creek
  • Jacks Mill Road in the area of the bridge
  • Valley Camp Road
  • The 8400 block of Rowe Run Road
  • Mongul Hill Road
  • Loop Road in the area of Boyermill Road
  • Little Cove Road in the area of Red Rock


Hagerstown weather observer Greg Keefer said on his website at i4weather.net that the weather system had dumped 1.43 inches of rain on Hagerstown as of 5:15 a.m. Friday.

Most of the heavy rain was leaving the Hagerstown area as of 8:50 p.m., and only scattered showers were expected overnight, said Trina Heiser, a technician with the National Weather Service in Sterling, Va.

But the heavy rain was leaving rising water in its wake.

The Potomac River at Williamsport's River Bottom Park was rising Thursday, and town officials were watching it closely, said Donald Stotelmyer, town clerk and treasurer.

One concern Williamsport town officials have when river levels start getting higher is water getting close to a sewage pump station along the waterway, Stotelmyer said.

Water can surround the sewage pump station and create challenges in accessing it if a problem with the facility arises, he said.

Water was not surrounding the pump station at 3:45 p.m. Thursday but it could when the river reaches an expected crest of 21 to 23 feet early Saturday, Stotelmyer said.

Flood stage at Williamsport is 23 feet. At 5:30 a.m. Friday, the river was at 15.9 feet, according to the National Weather Service.

Williamsport officials are also concerned about River Bottom Park. When water from the river starts rising into the park, town officials often close the road to prevent people from accessing the area, Stotelmyer said.

The road to the park was not closed as of 3:45 p.m. but will probably be closed by the time the river crests, Stotelmyer said.

In Hancock, the Potomac River is expected to crest at 22 to 24 feet from 7 p.m. Friday to 1 a.m. Saturday, Heiser said. Flood stage in Hancock is 30 feet, and the Potomac River stood at 20.24 feet at 1:15 p.m. Friday, the weather service said.

Antietam Creek near Sharpsburg is expected to crest at 7 feet about 1 p.m. Friday. Flood stage along the creek is 8 feet, and the creek stood at 4.13 feet at 6:30 p.m. Thursday, the weather service said.

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