Storms Deliver Rain and a Light Show in Washington Area

By Martin Weil and Emma Brown
Washington Post Staff Writers
Sunday, August 23, 2009

Washington sloshed through its rainiest Saturday of the summer as sprinkles and showers, deluges and downpours made water rise on roads and in intersections, delayed the start of the Washington Nationals baseball game and set a second consecutive rainfall record at one spot.

"Just received a report of over 5 inches" from this afternoon's rain near Annapolis, a National Weather Service meteorologist posted in a discussion on a weather service Web site. "Wow," the forecaster added.

Asked about roads that were closed or brimming with water, an Anne Arundel County police dispatcher began to read off a list.

One trouble spot was west of Annapolis, on Route 450. A man who lives south of the highway said the rain was "unbelievable."

"I've been here for 12 years," said Frederick Bahrenburg of Tundra Court. "It's the hardest I've seen it rain here. I couldn't believe it. I could hardly see across the street."

In Caroline County, on Maryland's Eastern Shore, about 9.55 inches of rain fell in the Ridgley and Greensboro areas, closing or damaging several roads, officials said.

Lightning, in the meantime, provided drama of its own, offering vivid early morning spectacle, and igniting at least one fire.

Lightning was blamed for a blaze on the top floor of a District Heights apartment house early Saturday, Prince George's County fire officials said. Damage was estimated to be $500,000.

More than 50 firefighters and emergency personnel responded before 5 a.m. to the building in the 1900 block of Rochelle Avenue. No one was injured, but 23 people were displaced, said fire spokesman Mark Brady. "There's practically no roof left on the building," he said.

The early morning thunder and lightning kept some people from getting to sleep and woke up others.

"It was truly incredible," said a woman who lives in the Trinidad area of Northeast Washington. "I half-expected every tree on the block and half the houses to have toppled."

"Talk about lightning," someone posted on the Washington Post's Capital Weather Gang blog. "It kept me up until well close to 5, but for a while between 3:50 and 4:15 we had just continuous thunder and lightning out here in Arlington."

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