Worst flooding in over a decade hits Chesapeake Bay
Areas along the Chesapeake Bay and Potomac River faced potentially historic floods on Oct. 29, with powerful winds causing severe tidal flooding in coastal areas.
Areas along the mid-Atlantic faced potentially historic levels of coastal flooding Friday, prompting one governor to issue a state of emergency as the storm that was once a powerful bomb cyclone over the Pacific Ocean completed its trek across the continental United States.
Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan declared a state of emergency on Friday for areas of the state along the Chesapeake Bay, the Potomac River and the Atlantic Coast that were under a coastal flood warning, including Baltimore City. Winds from the east driven by the system sent the tide into the streets of coastal cities such as Washington, D.C., Baltimore and Annapolis Thursday night into Friday morning during what the National Weather Service (NWS) warned could amount to one of the biggest tidal events of the past decade or two -- possibly since 2003's Hurricane Isabel in some locations.
The Kunta Kinte-Alex Haley Memorial and the road behind it are flooded near high tide at City Dock in downtown Annapolis, Md., on Friday, Oct. 29, 2021. The National Weather Service warned that the mid-Atlantic region could see one of the biggest tidal floods of the last decade or two as heavy rain and winds pummeled the region on Friday. (AP Photo/Brian Witte)
While tracking north of the area back during 2003, Hurricane Isabel had driven strong winds from the southeast into the region, pushing a tremendous amount of water into Baltimore's Inner Harbor. However, comparing the two events would be like comparing "apples to oranges," AccuWeather Senior Meteorologist Dave Dombek said.
While the winds weren't driven by a hurricane, they combined with the high tide to flood several streets, leading some residents to resort to getting around via canoe. In Annapolis, floodwaters rose to 4.09 feet at high tide around noon. The record level for coastal flooding in the city was 7.2 feet, according to The Baltimore Sun.
By 4 p.m. EDT on Friday, the Potomac River in Alexandria, Virginia, had surged by 5.99 feet, and then again just over 4.00 feet early Saturday morning.
Coastal flood warnings stretched from Richmond, Virginia, up the coast into northern New Jersey on Friday evening, with some expected to last into Saturday afternoon or evening. By Friday night, warnings in Virginia were isolated to coastal areas, like Jamestown and Chincoteague. In New Jersey, coastal flood warnings had also been trimmed back, reaching not much farther north than Trenton and Toms River.
In Harford County, Maryland, east of Baltimore County, over 2,000 customers were experiencing power outages at one point on Friday night, according to PowerOutage.US. In addition, a handful of public school systems had closed or canceled after-school activities due to inclement weather conditions, according to The Baltimore Sun.
While Dombek said the rain will be more of a short-term factor and not play into the coastal flooding, that's not to say that a significant amount didn't fall on Friday.
In Baltimore, the average amount of rainfall for the month of October is about 3.94 inches. From Oct. 1 up through Oct. 28, the city saw 2.22 inches of rainfall, well below the month's average. However, by 5 p.m. on Friday, Oct. 29, the city had seen another 2.42 inches just in one day. Throughout the night, another half-inch of rain fell. Not only did the total push the city's rainfall total for the month above average, but the city saw more rain on Friday than it had during the first 28 days of the month, Dombek said.
While the storm will be slow-moving and the area will see some "residual" effects from the storm, the weather is expected to clear up in the coming days.
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