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Tri-State area to have drier weather for several days

Meteorologist says Potomac River will continue to rise as water falls from higher elevations

March 11, 2011|By DAN DEARTH, DAVE McMILLION and KATE S. ALEXANDER | dan.dearth@herald-mail.com
  • The Conococheague Creek and Potomac River at Williamsport merge Friday to flood River Bottom Park.
By Kevin G. Gilbert, Staff Photographer

After days of rain and flooding, dry weather is finally headed to the Tri-State area.

The Hagerstown area is in for several drier days, with precipitation not making its way back to the area until the middle of next week, National Weather Service Meteorologist Bryan Jackson said.

The Potomac River, however could still continue to rise Saturday as water makes its way down from higher elevations, Jackson said.

Ed Plank, head of the Washington County Highway Department, said earlier Friday that the worst flooding in some parts of the county would not come until after sunset.  

Plank said that the hardest hit areas were around Conococheague Creek and Antietam Creek north of Hagerstown. Heavy flooding was reported in those spots Friday morning but it was expected to get worse later, Plank said.

Conococheague Creek at Fairview crested Friday morning, as the water continued moving down stream toward the Potomac River, most likely flooding areas as it went, Jackson said.

The Potomac River at Williamsport was expected to crest Friday night, although the latest official measurement was taken Friday morning, Jackson said.

Further down river at Harpers Ferry, W.Va., the Potomac had not crested by 9 p.m. and continued to rise, with its crest not expected until Saturday, he said.

Nonetheless, as of 8:27 p.m. the flood warning for the Potomac River at Harpers Ferry was canceled, Jackson said.

The National Weather Service did not expect the river to reach flood stage at that point, he said.

However, a flood warning remained in effect for Conococheague Creek in Washington County, according to the weather service.

The flood warning for Opequon Creek was canceled by 4:03 p.m., and the warning for Conococheague Creek was extended until Saturday night, the weather service said.

As of 8 p.m., many Washington County roads remained closed due to flooding, including:

  • Wishard Road, in the Fairview area
  • Kemps Mill Road from the old mill to the KOA campground
  • Independence Road, north of U.S. 40
  • All of Crest Pond Road

Crest Pond Road experienced the worst of it, with everything along  Conococheague Creek flooded, said John Phillips, supervisor of the Washington County Highway Department.

However, Antietam Creek was receding, and Beaver Creek Road, near Cool Hollow, was reopened to traffic around 2 p.m., he said.

Earlier problems also were reported on Gruber Road at Ashton Road.

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

By noon, PennDOT reported that there were no road closures in Franklin County.



Water levels

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 with a scant 0.02 inches falling on Friday.

At 10:15 a.m. Friday, Conococheague Creek crested at a height of 13.03 feet at Fairview, more than 5 feet above flood stage, the weather service said.

The creek is not expected to recede below flood stage until this evening, the weather service said.

In Hancock, the Potomac River was expected to crest at 22 to 24 feet from 7 p.m. Friday to 1 a.m. Saturday.  

As of Friday evening it was still rising, Jackson said.

Flood stage in Hancock is 30 feet, and the Potomac River stood at 21.68 feet at 7:15 p.m. Friday, the weather service said.

Antietam Creek near Sharpsburg crested at 5.95 feet at about 11:30 a.m. Friday. Flood stage along the creek is 8 feet, by 5:30 p.m. waters began to subside, with the creek standing at 5.5 feet, the weather service said.

In Harpers Ferry, W.Va., the Potomac River is expected to crest at 18 to 20 feet during the day Saturday, according to the weather service. Flood stage there is 18 feet.

At 7:15 p.m. Friday, the river was at 16.11 feet and rising, the weather service reported.

At 20.5 feet, the water could begin to flow through the open tunnel between the Potomac River and historic Harpers Ferry.

Opequon Creek near Martinsburg, W.Va., stood at 7.9 feet at 7 p.m. Friday, according to the weather service. Flood stage on the creek is 10 feet, and the weather service recorded the Opequon crested at 10.23 feet at noon Friday.

The National Weather Service canceled the flood warning for the creek, projecting it to continue to subside through Saturday.



MARC trains slowed

Two MARC commuter trains ran at reduced speeds Friday due to flash flood conditions.

The Maryland Transit Administration reported Friday that the Camden and Brunswick lines would run slower due to a severe weather warning imposed by CSX.

Under CSX's severe weather-alert policies, trains must reduce speeds to 40 mph and must approach bridges over bodies of water at significantly reduced speeds, prepared to stop in case damage is observed, according to the Maryland Transit Authority website.

Because the Brunswick line crosses more bodies of water than other MARC lines, all trains on that line were expected to experience delays of up to 15-20 minutes during the evening commute, the website said.

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