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Posted at 10:50 AM ET, 08/19/2011

Torrential rain and hail pound D.C.’s northern suburbs Thursday; rainbows and lightning dazzle

Vibrant lightning bolt illuminates towering cumulus and rain shaft in Purcellville last night. By Dustin Wince of DWince photography, submitted via Facebook. View large size.
Multiple thunderstorms - sometimes tracking over the same areas - produced hail as large as golf balls, frequent lightning, and tropical downpours in large portions of D.C.’s northern suburbs Thursday afternoon and evening. Before the sun set, light intersecting the intense rain shafts produced vibrant rainbows in many locations.

Doppler estimated rainfall the last 24 hours. (National Weather Service)

Lightning shot in Fauquier county just before midnight. Submitted by Stephen Little via Facebook.
The rain

Rainfall amounts ranged from 0.75-1.5” in northern Fairfax, Montgomery, and northern Prince George’s county. The heaviest rain fell in northern Anne Arundel county where 1.5-2.5” fell. The rain sharply cutoff southwest of the District with generally 0.1” or less.

BWI airport received 1.72” of rain, a new daily record. But at National Airport, just a trace fell. Dulles Airport fell right in the middle, receiving 0.65”.

The hail

Hail was reported over many of the regions that got heavy rain, with enough hail to cover the ground briefly in Fairfax, Wheaton-Glenmont, Beltsville, Laurel and Ashburn (later at night) according to reports. The stones were generally small - from pea to dime size, but there were isolated reports of quarter to golf ball sized hail around Glenmont and Laurel.

Hailstorm in Glenmont, Maryland. Submitted by @liss07 via Twitter.

Radar image showing hail shaft over Wheaton-Glenmont area. Radar estimated maximum hail size reached 2.5” in diameter. Submitted by @AlxWIDEnet via Twitter

Hail covering the ground in Fairfax late yesterday afternoon. Submitted by jeffc666 via Twitter.
We’ll end with a great rainbow shot sent in via Twitter

Double rainbow over Glen Burnie between storms yesterday. Submitted by @reqgal via Twitter.

By  |  10:50 AM ET, 08/19/2011

Categories:  Thunderstorms, Latest

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