Heavy Rain Wallops Area, Prompting Evacuations in Northern Maryland

By Jacqueline L. Salmon and Carol D. Leonnig
Washington Post Staff Writers
Sunday, October 9, 2005

Heavy rainfall that has swept through the Washington area in the past two days has doused the September drought with an October deluge.

The rain -- the remnants of Tropical Storm Tammy that moved up the East Coast -- flooded roads, triggered some evacuations and washed out fall festivals. At the same time, it thrilled gardeners, who struggled to save parched landscaping through the driest September on record.

By nightfall the two-day rainfall had dumped 7.25 inches at Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport and 6.61 inches at Dulles International Airport -- more then twice the average rainfall for the entire month of October, said Brian Guyer, a spokesman for the National Weather Service.

The September dry spell -- less than one-tenth of an inch of rain fell -- has been "wiped out," said Guyer. "We're above normal again."

For some, the rain presented an unwelcome diversion to weekend plans.

At Union Station, customer service agent Yolanda Hochoa got an earful -- and some fists pounded on her counter -- from Amtrak travelers frustrated by delays of up to 2-1/2 hours after a tree just north of the station fell on train-signal wiring during today's morning's downpour.

"It was crazy," said Hochoa. "Everybody got so furious. But I guess I understand; some people had business to take care of."

At 2:15 p.m., a crowd of 250 passengers, many frowning and some pacing, were still trying to leave on a train destined for New York's Penn Station.

The Feaster family -- two sisters, one brother and their mother -- were determinedly upbeat as they headed to a party in lower Manhattan to celebrate their youngest sister's 30th birthday. The group had planned to leave on a 12:25 p.m. train that was indefinitely delayed, then switched to take a train scheduled to leave at 1:25 p.m. But 45 minutes after its scheduled departure, that train still hadn't pulled out.

"We've got our coffee, our family to talk to," said Shannon Feaster, one of the sisters. "But the party starts at 8 p.m., so trust me, I'm going to be mad if we're not in the city by then."

Today's torrential downpours set one-day records across the region. At National Airport, 3.62 inches of rain fell, besting by more than two inches the previous record, set in 1996, according to the National Weather Service. Rainfall totals at Dulles and at Baltimore Washington Airport today also set one-day records.

The Weather Service issued a flood warning for most of the area today. Some parts of northern Maryland received up to 10 inches of rain during the two-day storm, said Guyer.

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