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Downpours Cover Roads, Prompt Flood Warnings

By Martin Weil
Washington Post Staff Writer
Sunday, April 23, 2006

The heaviest rain in weeks continued to fall last night in many parts of the Washington region, sending high water onto many roads and prompting the National Weather Service to issue a number of flash flood warnings.

The downpours, which extended across the region from Charlottesville to Baltimore, persisted late into the night after as much as three inches, by Weather Service estimates, had fallen in many spots.

The Weather Service said that more than 2.5 inches fell at Dulles International Airport. That drenching, most of it within three hours, was more rain than fell in the past two months combined.

"We have several roads with high-water signs on them" in Northern Virginia, said Joan Morris, a spokeswoman for the state Department of Transportation.

Morris, and authorities in Prince William and Fairfax counties, reeled off lists of affected road segments and intersections.

In Prince William, those included parts of Linton Hall, Wellington and Ball's Ford roads, Lee Highway and Route 55. Up to four feet of water was reported on Interstate 66 at Sudley Road. Near Haymarket, Catharpin Run spilled across Pageland Lane.

In Fairfax, water covered sections of Braddock Road and flowed across the intersection of Ox and Burke Lake roads, halting traffic.

"There's standing water all over the place," said a Maryland State Police communications officer in Rockville. Those places included interchanges on the Capital Beltway and one on Interstate 270 at Route 28.

"Cars are getting stalled here and there," the officer said.

In Montgomery County, there was standing water on Quince Orchard Road, and a flash flood closed roads near Seneca Creek State Park. At least one rescue was reported as the rain headed east.

Rain of such long duration has rarely been seen here in recent weeks, and many welcomed it.

But it was a nuisance and worse, in places. In Fauquier County, where the rain was particularly heavy, water accumulated on a stairwell outside Fauquier Hospital.

From there, according to spokeswoman Christy Connolly, it got into a mechanical room, shutting down two elevators before it was pumped out.

Staff writer Clarence Williams contributed to this report.

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