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Region Singing in the Rain, But About Drier Days Ahead

Betsy Morse and sons Allan, 3, and Peter, 7 months, walk along the rain-soaked streets of Alexandria, Va.
Betsy Morse and sons Allan, 3, and Peter, 7 months, walk along the rain-soaked streets of Alexandria, Va. (Gerald Martineau - The Washington Post)
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By Nelson Hernandez and Mark Berman
Washington Post Staff Writers
Saturday, June 6, 2009

On the weather radar, the storm that drenched the Washington area yesterday blotted the map like a gloomy green cloud, sluggishly creeping northeast as soggy area residents eagerly embraced the promise of a drier weekend.

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It wasn't even a storm -- more like what meteorologists refer to as a "weather event." Dismal and dull, it caused little in the way of flooding, downed trees, automobile accidents, power outages or water rescues. What it did provoke were wistful comparisons to Seattle, which, it should be noted, was mostly sunny.

Washington received a little more than an inch of rain between Thursday afternoon and last night, said Ian Livingston, a forecaster for washingtonpost.com's Capital Weather Gang.

"I would love for the rain to stop," said Flora L. Gee, director of the Greenbelt Children's Center, who had to find indoor physical activities for her young charges yesterday. "I know that this is helping the plants that have been placed in the ground tremendously. But I would sure like to see some sun and blue sky."

Gee might get her wish: Forecasters predict that this weekend will be mostly dry and sunny, with highs in the 80s. Then there's a good chance some storms will pick up again.

Six days into June, rain totals are nearing the typical overall monthly totals in some places. Dulles International Airport has received 4.03 inches of rain this month, about .04 off the normal rainfall for the month, Livingston said.

His colleague Dan Stillman said that although the total precipitation for this year has been above average, it's lagging well behind that of last year, in which an extraordinarily wet May -- the third-wettest on record -- contributed to a soaked spring.

Yesterday's downpour generated flood warnings for the District; Montgomery, Arlington and Fairfax counties; and Fairfax, Alexandria and Falls Church. For all the rain, however, local authorities reported few disruptions to traffic or water service.

In the most notable incident, a stretch of Telegraph Road in the Alexandria section of Fairfax County was closed for much of the day as crews worked to repair a ruptured 12-inch water main, officials said.

Crews had to wait several hours for a gas line near the break to be secured before they could begin work, said Fairfax Water spokeswoman Jeanne Bailey. The rupture is at Florence Lane and Telegraph Road, south of the Capital Beltway. Telegraph Road was closed in both directions between Franconia and Wilton roads, and 22 houses were without water service as repair work continued last night.

For area residents, the rain mostly caused slower commutes and problems at work. With the end of the school year approaching, the weather can be a double-edged sword for teachers: Too warm, and students stop focusing on class. Too wet, and they can't go outside.

"Let's face it, getting outside is a really important component for the day," said Kimberly Seidel, principal of Greenbelt Elementary School. At the school, students played games, danced to music and got their physical education time in when they had a chance.

Ramon Korionoff, a spokesman for the Prince George's County state's attorney, rued the rain.

"I understand we need the rain, and this is tremendously good for crops," he said. "But as for getting your summer plans underway, if I wanted this kind of weather, I'd be in Seattle."

The drizzle, however, didn't stop mail carriers from making their appointed rounds. Joanna Brown, a carrier in Alexandria who spends a lot of time driving and on foot, said she liked the weather because it has been hot lately.

"I really don't mind the rain," she said. "You just have to be careful driving and walking. . . . Still got to deliver the mail."

Staff writer Debbi Wilgoren contributed to this report.


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