Flooding, Travel Delays Along Interstate 95 Friday

By Brian Thompson, Meteorologist
July 12, 2013; 9:02 PM ET
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Torrential downpours will bring a new round of flash flooding and travel delays along the East Coast from Florida to New Jersey into Friday evening.

Flooding downpours hit Washington, D.C., early Friday morning, closing some roads and prompting water rescues. For the time being, the heaviest rain was drifting northeast of the city. Additional downpours are forecast later in the day and at night.

However, that particular pocket of heavy rain was sliding along a stalled frontal zone. The downpours will affect Dover, Del., Atlantic City, N.J., Baltimore and Philadelphia into the evening, while expanding to Harrisburg and Allentown, Pa. and part of the New York City metro area.

Late Friday afternoon, water rescues took place in west of Philadelphia, in Upper Providence, Pa., due to localized flash flooding from heavy rain.

Other areas of heavy rain were occurring along the frontal zone from Virginia Beach, Va., to Wilmington, N.C., Myrtle Beach, S.C., Savannah, Ga., and Jacksonville, Fla. These locations can be hit with localized flash and urban flooding into Friday night.

The heaviest downpours will produce over an inch of rain per hour, which can overwhelm storm drains. Portions of Delaware have received over half of a foot of rain since 8:00 a.m. Friday. The University of North Carolina at Wilmington received more than 3.6 inches of rain since late Thursday night.

Some roads may become impassible due to high water. Friday afternoon, Charleston, S.C., reported multiple road closures due to flash flooding in the area.

The heavy rain can also push small streams out of their banks, many of which are already swollen thanks to rainfall of two to three times that of normal since June 1.

The torrential downpours can slow incoming and outgoing flights at the major airports being hit directly and may lead to problems at airports elsewhere, where incoming aircraft have been delayed.

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Severe Weather Center

The ground is already saturated in many areas from recent rainfall. Streams and creeks from eastern Georgia to Virginia are already near or above flood stage. Any additional rainfall will only act to exacerbate existing flooding problems.

One example of the recent heavy rain is Greenville, S.C. Measurable rain has been recorded through each of the first 11 days of the month, totaling 10.19 inches. That total is already more than double the average of 4.80 inches for the entire month of July.

The flooding threat will persist into Saturday but will also begin to spread into the central and southern Appalachians, as the front reverses and moves toward the west.

The moisture from Tropical Rainstorm Chantal will also help to enhance the rainfall, especially across the Carolinas and eastern Virginia.

The good news for these rain-soaked areas is that the showers and thunderstorms will not be nearly as widespread by Sunday and early next week, allowing more opportunities to dry out.

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