Amtrak’s trains began moving through the Northeast once again, though only as far north as Newark. Acela service was canceled, as were Northeast Regional trains meant to run between Newark and Boston.
The normally languid Potomac might continue to be roiled for days, another consequence of the storm’s freak nature. The tropical rainfall turned to snow when it reached the cold jet stream in western Maryland and Virginia. Now, more than two feet of snow is on the ground in places where the average high temperature for the beginning of November is usually above 50 degrees.
Some of that sits on the western edges of the region’s watershed, and when it starts to melt, it could prolong the flush of storm water into next week. One of the Potomac’s worst floodings came in January 1996, when there was a sudden thaw after a blizzard.
At Georgetown’s Washington Harbour, murky, brown water rushed level with the pier’s highest boards, at least five feet higher than normal. But late Tuesday night, as high tide approached, there appeared to be little threat of the water breaching the floodwalls.
Gatorade bottles and a yellow flip-flop were swept downstream, riding the current with birds and massive chunks of driftwood. A thin, sticky layer of mud caked the boardwalk for blocks.
Tangles of tree branches and logs drifted by from as far away as Pennsylvania and West Virginia, said Brooks Bowen, a lawyer and former special assistant to the administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency.
“This is spectacular, how fast it’s moving,” Bowen said of the debris-filled river. “The good news is that damage may be bad, but the cleanup creates a lot of jobs.”
Many compared the water level with that of the flood-swollen Potomac in April 2011, when flash floods killed seven people and inundated Washington Harbour restaurants and businesses with water and mud.
With no structural damage, the Alexandria waterfront looked remarkably normal Wednesday after several days of flooding. The water taxi was preparing for a run, and businesses including Chart House Restaurant were busily getting ready for lunch. Two businesses close to the water, Starbucks and a Thai restaurant, were closed pending a health inspection.
The Potomac Riverboat water taxi had been closed Monday and Tuesday.
On the dock, dogwalker Stacey Taylor, who lives in Del Ray, strolled by with Leo, an orange-brown mixed-breed puppy.
“We’ve been cooped up for several days,” she said, enjoying the fresh air.
Tony Castrilli, spokesman for the City of Alexandria, said officials have not found any storm damage to the waterfront.
He added that the city will be closely monitoring high tide at night in case there’s a surge. “We’re keeping a close eye on it,” Castrilli said. “If there’s a problem, we’ll notify everyone and put up barricades.”