A tornado watch is in effect through 7 p.m. for the entire Washington, D.C. and Baltimore regions (5:45 p.m. update: the watch has been lifted as severe weather has moved out of the region) as a strong cold front sweeps through. Damaging winds and torrential rain are possible. The worst weather is likely to affect the immediate D.C. area between 3 and 6 p.m. Follow along here (scroll down) for the latest updates on the forecast and storm impacts.
Link: Power outage tracker.
In a sense, we dodged a bullet today with just scattered wind damage and power outages. Peak winds of 45 to 60 mph were not as high as our last two big severe thunderstorm events of Sept. 8 and June 29 (the derecho) when peak gusts were 50-65 and 65-80 mph, respectively.
Here’s a Weatherbug map showing peak gusts near and within the District. The highest value seen is the 61 mph gust at Reagan National Airport.
We’ll leave you with a dramatic image of the storm as it approached the Ballston area of Arlington, Va., courtesy @capitalweather Twitter follower @jdhague4
— JD Hague (@jdhague4) September 18, 2012
Although rain will move out of the area over the next couple of hours, the Nationals Journal blog tells us: “Due to the inclement weather, Tuesday night’s game against the Los Angeles Dodgers is postponed until Wednesday. The teams will play a straight doubleheader, the first game scheduled for 4 p.m. and the second to follow soon after.”
The threat of severe weather has officially ended.
There have been a number of trees downed throughout the area, but rain, not wind, caused most of the problems, especially in western Virginia and west central Maryland.
Flooding was reported in Winchester, Frederick and Thurmont, where 2 to 4 inches of rain fell. Closer to D.C., though, amounts weren’t nearly as impressive, and only a couple reports of flooding came in out of Montgomery County — around Rockville (the off-ramp of I-270 flooded at the Montgomery Avenue exit) and Chevy Chase (Connecticut Avenue at Saul Road).
The image below shows Doppler-indicated rainfall totals. The yellow shades indicate 2″ of rain, and dark orange 3″. Note the relatively modest totals in the immediate metro region — from about 0.3-1.0″, colored in the green shades. Reagan National Airport received 0.61″, and Dulles 0.78″.
The worst of the weather seems to have passed this area, but travelers heading to or from Washington should expect headaches to last for a while. Weather-related delays are reported from Washington to Boston, with issues at Dulles, Reagan National, Baltimore, Philadelphia, Newark, LaGuardia, JFK and Boston airports. As always, check with your airline before heading out.
The downed tree blocking eastbound Suitland Parkway near Silver Hill Road has been cleared and the roadway reopened.
Arlington County public schools canceled all afternoon activities due to the storm and its aftermath. Prince William County schools canceled after-school and evening activities after 6:30 p.m.; school-age childcare will close at the regular time.
Alexandria public schools canceled all athletic and other activities that require district transportation services, as well as the adult education evening program.
In Montgomery County, officials at some elementary schools in the southeast part of the county delayed dismissal. “Those are the kinds of calls that need to be made in real time by someone in the school,” said spokesman Dana Tofig. Principals make the call.
Prince George’s County Schools canceled all afternoon and evening activities for Tuesday.
A downed tree on eastbound Suitland Parkway blocked the path of an ambulance on its way to the hospital. Mark Brady, a Prince George’s County Fire/EMS department spokesman, said the ambulance was carrying a car accident victim with injuries not thought to be life-threatening, and fire officials had sent a second ambulance to finish the transport. He said officials had also sent a heavy-duty rescue squad to clear the tree from the roadway.
Brady said the storm, which hit about 3:15 p.m. in Prince George’s, caused several traffic accidents and knocked down trees across the county — including one which crashed into a house on 59th Place in Cheverly. He said the home sustained “significant damage,” but those inside were unharmed.
— Matt Zapotosky
5p.m. update: The downed tree on the MARC Brunswick Line near Garrett Park has been removed from one of the tracks. Expect residual delays as trains head back into service.
Original post: The downed tree near Garrett Park on the MARC Brunswick Line remains in place. As a result, Metro will honor MARC tickets on the Red Line. (Metro is also honoring MARC tickets on the Green Line due to the problems on the Camden Line this morning.)
The Maryland Transit Administration says crews are on the scene and one track should be opening by 4:45 p.m. We’ll update as we get more information.
Severe thunderstorm warning for SE Anne Arundel and N. Calvert counties until 4:45 p.m. ; flash flood warning canceled for District
The worst of the storms are about to reach the Chesapeake Bay, but must first come through the Annapolis area, where there’s a severe thunderstorm warning through 4:45 p.m. The Severn and South rivers are also in the path of this storm, which is producing torrential rain and possibly damaging winds. Avoid the Bay Bridge for the next half hour if possible.
Meanwhile, the National Weather Service has lifted the flash flood warning for the District, as the heaviest rain has shifted east.
First comes the storm, then comes the aftermath. Flooding, downed trees and power outages generally create headaches in the hours and days after severe weather. Here are some resources for reporting outages, downed trees and debris in roadways.
— BGE outages: 877-778-2222; downed wires: 800-685-0123; outage map
— Dominion outages and downed wires: 866-366-4357; outage map
— Northern Virginia Electric Cooperative outages and downed wires: 703-335-0500; outage reports
— Pepco outages: 877-737-2662; downed wires: 202-872-343; outage map
— Washington Gas: 800-752-7520
Downed trees and debris in roads
Anne Arundel County: After hours, 410-222-6120; northern district, 410-222-6120; central district, 410-222-7940; southern district; 410-222-7940; Annapolis; 410-263-7870.
Arlington County:703-228-6527; after hours, 703-558-2222.
Calvert County: 410-535-1600.
Charles County: 301-932-3450 or 301-870-2778.
The District: 311; clogged storm drains, 202-612-3400.
Fairfax County: 703-324-5033 (Public Works); 571-350-1000 (Emergency Management); 703-383-VDOT.
Howard County: 410-313-3440.
Loudoun County:703-777-0333 (Emergency Management); 703-383-VDOT.
State of Maryland: 800-543-2515.
Montgomery County: 240-777-6000.
National Park Service: http://www.nps.gov/state/dc/
Prince George’s County: 301-499-8520; after hours, 301-499-8600.
Prince William County: 703-792-7070 or 703-383-VDOT.
Commonwealth of Virginia: 703-383-VDOT.
As rain continues to decrease in coverage and intensity in the District and points west, the tornado watch has been canceled. However, it remains in effect east of town including in Prince George’s, Anne Arundel, Calvert, Charles, and St. Mary’s counties, where strong storms continue.
Three more trees are down and blocking roadways in Northwest D.C., according to the police:
- A tree at Second and E streets NW is blocking the intersection
- A tree at 33rd and P streets NW is blocking the intersection
- A tree at New Hampshire Avenue NW and Washington Circle is down on the north side of the circle, so avoid that entire area if possible
VRE Manassas Line train 335, which normally leaves Union Station heading south at 6:10 p.m., has been canceled. This is due to flood restrictions. All trains on the Manassas Line will experience delays of at least an hour.
Thus far, reports of damaging winds have been scattered as opposed to widespread (like during the Sept. 8 and June 29 outbreaks). National Airport recorded a peak gust of 61 mph at 3:10 p.m. and BWI gusted to 47 mph as the storms rolled through.
The National Weather Service has logged reports of a few downed trees in Fairfax and Prince William counties.
No confirmed tornado reports have come in, although a funnel cloud was spotted in Culpeper County according to the National Weather Service.
Here are a couple neat time lapse videos of the storm coming through …
5 p.m. update: Penn Line trains are now 20 to 50 minutes late due to weather-related signal problems. All trains are also still running at restricted speeds.
4:20 p.m. update: In addition, MARC Penn Line trains are also delayed due to speed restrictions. The Maryland Transit Administration warns all riders to expect delays of 10 to 30 minutes due to the weather.
A downed tree near Garrett Park on the Brunswick Line could create additional problems.
Original post: Flash flood-related speed restrictions should slow MARC Brunswick Line trains this afternoon and evening. Trains are going to travel at reduced speeds, which could lead to delays of at least 20 to 30 minutes.
A downed tree is also blocking eastbound Suitland Parkway just before Silver Hill Road. All eastbound traffic is stalled at this spot, which is right near the Suitland Metro station. A squad is on the way to cut and remove the tree, but expect major headaches around that area.
Three more trees are down and blocking roads in Washington:
- In the 400 block of Oglethorpe Street NE (entire road blocked)
- At the intersection of 13th Street and Legate Road NW (intersection blocked)
- At 920 Shepherd Street NW (entire road blocked)
Commuters leaving work this afternoon and evening could encounter downed trees and wires, flooded roadways, power outages and countless other headaches and delays.
If you’re driving out there as the storm knocks out power across the region, remember to treat intersections without power as four-way stops. Don’t force your car through flooded spots.
If you’re heading to bus stops, train stations or walking/biking home, use extra caution on sidewalks and in crosswalks. And make sure to be careful at train stations. Watch for wind gusts, crowded platforms and slippery staircases.
More than 8,000 households are without power in Northern Virginia as storms roll across the region. Use our interactive chart to see real-time power outage statistics throughout Maryland, Virginia and the District.
The strongest winds have come and gone in the District (Reagan National Airport gusted to 61 mph at the height of the storm) and points west, but radar shows very heavy rain continuing around Alexandria and the District. This serves as a good reminder that a flash flood warning remains in effect until 5:45 p.m. in the immediate D.C. area.
A tree is down at 2nd and E streets in NE Washington, according to the D.C. police. The intersection, just outside of Union Station, is closed in all directions.
Police recommend drivers use Massachusetts Avenue NE as an alternate route.
All afternoon and evening activities are cancelled for Prince George’s County public schools. See other cancellations here.
If you handle weather-related closings for schools and organizations in the District, Maryland or Virginia, be sure you’re included in our listings.
So far, I have not encountered reports of any confirmed tornado activity. We will keep you informed about any tornado sightings and/or damage reports.
The severe weather is impacting travelers trying to head in and out of the Washington area.
Delays are being reported at Ronald Reagan National Airport, Dulles International Airport, Baltimore-Washington International Marshall Airport, Philadelphia International Airport, Newark International Airport, JFK International Airport and LaGuardia Airport.
In addition, there are delays at the Atlanta and Orlando airports. Check with your airline before heading out.
The worst of the storm has exited the District and western suburbs in the immediate area but it is now headed into (and through) Prince George’s, Howard, and Charles counties on its way towards the Chesapeake Bay (to still pass through Anne Arundel, Calvert, and St. Mary’s counties). Baltimore will get hit hard in the next 20 minutes or so. And the storms should reach Annapolis in 30-40 minutes.
Torrential rains and wind gusts to 60 mph are possible as these storms blow through.
The latest NWS statement indicates possible (doppler radar indicated) tornado near Langley Park moving NE at 55 mph. Beltsville, Cavlerton and Fairland may be impacted.
Doppler radar indicated a *possible* tornado near Takoma Park moving northeast at 45 mph towards Beltsville. Take cover immediately if you’re in the path of this storm.
The entire D.C. metro area is under a evere thunderstorm warning, but the worst is exiting eastern Montgomery and SE Fairfax counties and the District now. Eastern suburbs are next up.
Very heavy rain and gusty winds continue rapidly pressing east. Severe weather conditions are moving into the downtown area at this moment and should reach Prince George’s County in the next 15 to 20 minutes.
A line of storms moving through may produce 1 to 2 inches of rain in a very short amount of time, sufficient to cause flooding in low-lying areas. Do not try to drive through low-lying areas.
This warning includes: Arlington, the District, McLean, Falls Church, Chevy Chase, Bethesda, Potomac, and Rockville.
The strongest part of the line is from just east of Reston through Great Falls and into North Potomac. It should arrive on the west side of the beltway, the south part of I-270, and the south side of I-95 (in Va.) in the next 15 minutes. Here are some eyewitness reports:
— Rhonda Wilson (@rhondawilson05) September 18, 2012
— dmv (@Kanoledge) September 18, 2012
Holy moly, the skies just opened up in a very real way here in Tyson’s Corner. @capitalweather
— Joe Drugan (@CapitolNatsJoe) September 18, 2012
Severe thunderstorm warning for N. Montgomery, NW Howard, SE Carroll and E Loudoun counties until 3:30 p.m.
Pretty much the entire western half of the metro region is covered in severe thunderstorm warnings through 3-3:30 p.m. This latest warning includes SE Frederick, N. Montgomery, Carroll, NW Baltimore, NW Howard and eastern Loudoun counties. The major hazards with these storms are the potential for damaging winds and torrential rain.
Strong storms with potential damaging winds have moved inside Fairfax and Prince William counties. Some Twitter reports:
@capitalweather Manassas is getting pummeled right now.
— Sandra Luciel (@NatsGirl19) September 18, 2012
Chantilly, VA, getting pounded with heavy rain and high winds. @capitalweather
— Jeff Ferguson (@JeffreyTFerg) September 18, 2012
The National Weather Service has issued a severe thunderstorm warning for eastern Orange, southeastern Culpeper, Stafford, Spotsylvania and southeast Fauquier counties through 3:30 p.m. for the possibility of 60+ mph winds. This includes the city of Fredericksburg.
The heaviest storms are currently around Warrenton, Leesburg and Frederick (Md.) but are charging into the immediate metro region.
A severe thunderstorm warning has been issued for a large chunk of the western side of the immediate D.C. metro region that includes: northwest Washington, D.C., Fairfax County, Falls Church, Fairfax, Arlington, the city of Manassas, Alexandria, Prince William County, southeast Loudoun County and eastern Fauquier County.
Torrential rain and winds to 60 mph or higher are possible with this line of storms.
Close-up radar view at 2:22 p.m.
The line of storms moving into the metro region is producing torrential rain and has a history of producing flash flooding in places like Frederick and Winchester.
A flash flood watch has been issued until 8 p.m. for the entire D.C. and Baltimore areas for the potential of rainfall rates of 1 to 2 inches per hour.
Low-lying areas (e.g. Bloomingdale in the District) and creeks will be most susceptible to flash flooding. Remember: Never try to cross a flooded roadway in your vehicle. Turn around, don’t drown.
Dangerous squall line approaching: severe thunderstorm warning for Loudoun, western Montgomery counties until 3 p.m.
A powerful line of thunderstorms is edging closer to the immediate D.C. metro area. If you haven’t charged portable devices (cell phones, smart phones, etc), now would be a good time.
Powerful storms are currently racing into Fauquier, Loudoun, western Prince William, and western Montgomery counties where severe thunderstorm warnings are in effect until 3 p.m. Damaging winds over 60 mph are the primary threat with these storms.
Specific locations included in this warning include Purcellville (again!), Brambleton, Frederick, Point of Rocks, and Ballenger Creek.
An intense line of thunderstorms is moving northeast from around Charlottesville in the general direction of Central Fauquier county, including the Warrenton area.
Severe thunderstorm warnings cover the following areas: eastern Albemarle County (until 2 p.m.), Orange County, Culpeper County, eastern Green County, most of Madison County, southeast Rappahannock County, and the southern two thirds of Fauquier County. This region includes: Orange, Culpeper, Madison, Rapidan, Bealeton and Warrenton.
The line of storms is moving northeast at 45 mph and may produce damaging winds in excess of 60 mph as well as torrential rain.
The Weatherbug station at the Banner School in Frederick, Md., reports 3.40 inches of rain so far today. Weatherbug meteorologist Jacob Wycoff says 0.34 inches fell in just three minutes between 1:22 and 1:25 p.m., an astounding rate of 6.8 inches per hour.
Flash flooding also reported by Twitter follower @MADUSWX:
— MAD US Weather (@MADUSWX) September 18, 2012
The National Weather Service reports that flooding has occurred in and around the campus of Shenandoah University (separate social media reports indicate cars under water in a parking lot) as well as near the intersection of Routes 7 and 81.
More flooding reports and photos from around Winchester can be found on the Shenandoah Valley Fire Facebook page.
So far, the strong winds and heavy rains have concentrated in northwest Virginia and west central Maryland. In the immediate metro region, the weather has been showery and windy (Reagan National Airport has recorded wind gusts from 30-39 mph the past four hours) but not severe.
As the afternoon wears on, and the potent cold front edges closer, thunderstorm activity should increase in coverage and intensity in the immediate metro region. The latest data and model simulations indicate that the heaviest activity will come through between 4 and 8 p.m. — although severe weather is possible a little before (especially west of D.C.) and after (especially east of D.C.) that time window.
Above maps show probability of damaging winds and tornadoes within 25 miles of a given point.
The area from Purcellville in Loudoun County to Thurmont in Frederick County continues to get hammered by rain and wind. The flash flood warning covering northern Frederick County has been extended to cover northern Loudoun and southwest Frederick counties.
Up to 2 inches of rain has fallen in this area and 2 to 3 inches more are possible.
Locations impacted by this torrential rain include Purcellville, Round Hill, Ballenger Creek, Brunswick and Frederick.
Torrential rains moving over the same areas have produced totals of 1 to 2 inches in parts of northern Frederick County, and another 2 inches are possible.
The National Weather Service has issued a flash flood warning until 4:45 p.m. for northern Frederick and northwest Carroll counties, including the Boonsboro, Emmitsburg, Thurmont and Wolfsville areas.
Do not try to cross flooded waters in your car. Turn around, don’t drown.
So far today, Loudoun and Frederick counties have been hardest hit by storms, and another round is coming through.
Storms near Round Hill (in Loudoun County) are moving northeast at 50 mph toward Point of Rocks, Brunswick, Ballenger Creek and Frederick. Winds in excess of 60 mph are possible with these storms.
The National Weather Service’s Storm Prediction Center has now issued tornado watches from the South Carolina/North Carolina border to southeast New York State. It’s rare to see an area this large and this populated all covered in tornado watches at the same time.
A very strong thunderstorm currently stretches from just northeast of Frederick in Frederick County northeastward towards northwest Carroll County. It’s racing NE at 40 mph and is affecting the Walkersville and Taneytown areas. It may produce wind gusts to 60 mph or higher.
Strong winds knocked down a large tree limb, reports Capital Weather Watcher @KPJDCA
2″ rain, extremely heavy. 60+mph damaging winds. Large tree branch down on truck, flash flooding purcellville, va twitter.com/KPJDCA/status/…
— KPJ the DCA Liberal(@KPJDCA) September 18, 2012
You don’t see this too often — particularly in September — but NOAA’s Storm Prediction Center (SPC) is upgrading the overall storm risk from slight to moderate for a large area from southern North Carolina to central New York State.
The last moderate risk issued for the D.C. area was during the June 29 derecho — not that these events are comparable. The atmospheric set-up was very different. But this does convey that there is the potential for a significant severe weather outbreak.
WIDESPREAD SEVERE WIND GUSTS WILL BE THE MAIN CONCERN ACROSS THE UPCOMING MODERATE RISK AREA … AND SEVERE WIND PROBABILITIES WILL BE INCREASED TO 45 PERCENT ACROSS THIS REGION. HOWEVER…TORNADOES WILL ALSO BE POSSIBLE..
Note to travelers: This cold front means business up and down the East Coast. The National Weather Service is likely to issue a tornado watch for the region from southeast Pennsylvania to southern Connecticut. A tornado watch also is in effect in central North Carolina, including the Raleigh-Durham area.
An line of fast-moving but intense storms is racing through northern Loudoun County toward Frederick County. Wind gusts over 60 mph are possible in these storms. Potentially affected: Round Hill, Purcellville, Frederick.
TORNADOES…HAIL TO 0.5 INCH IN DIAMETER…THUNDERSTORM WIND GUSTS TO 70 MPH…AND DANGEROUS LIGHTNING ARE POSSIBLE IN THESE AREAS.
The National Weather Service cautions:
A GRADUAL INCREASE IN STORM COVERAGE AND INTENSITY IS EXPECTED TODAY AS LARGE-SCALE FORCING FOR ASCENT INCREASES ACROSS A VERY MOIST AND MARGINALLY UNSTABLE WARM SECTOR. MODEL FORECAST DATA INDICATE A CONTINUED STRENGTHENING OF THE DEEP-LAYER WIND FIELD THROUGH THE PEAK OF THE DIURNAL HEATING CYCLE WITH THE ENVIRONMENT BECOMING SUPPORTIVE OF EMBEDDED BOW [ECHOES] AND SUPERCELL STRUCTURES CAPABLE OF TORNADOES AND DAMAGING WINDS.
Storms with potentially damaging winds are firing up along the I-81 corridor in western Virginia.
…A SEVERE THUNDERSTORM WARNING REMAINS IN EFFECT UNTIL 1115 AM FOR THE CITY OF WINCHESTER…AND BERKELEY…JEFFERSON…CLARKE…FREDERICK…WARREN AND SHENANDOAH COUNTIES…
Wind gusts to 60 mph or higher are possible in these storms.
The National Weather Service Storm Prediction Center says severe thunderstorm and/or tornado watches are likely to soon be issued for much of the mid-Atlantic region, including Washington, D.C. and Baltimore:
SEVERE THUNDERSTORM POTENTIAL…INCLUDING DAMAGING WINDS AND A FEW TORNADOES…IS EXPECTED TO STEADILY INCREASE BY LATE MORNING/EARLY AFTERNOON…INCLUDING PIEDMONT PORTIONS OF NC INTO WESTERN/CENTRAL VA AND ADJACENT PARTS OF MD/EASTERN WV/SOUTHERN PA. CURRENT THINKING IS THAT ONE OR MORE WATCHES ARE LIKELY FOR AT LEAST THE MAJORITY OF THE REGION BY LATE MORNING.