D.C. region braces for deluge

By Ashley Halsey III
Washington Post Staff Writer
Wednesday, September 29, 2010; 10:41 PM

The tired words of winter storm warnings were trundled out in force as the region "braced" for a "dump" of precipitation that could close roads, delay trains and cancel meetings.

But snow? No.

The salt trucks and plows sit silent in their sheds.

Rain, and quite a lot of it, drew a bull's-eye on the Washington region with the same ferocity as last winter's relentless blizzards. Take heart: The more than five inches of rain that might fall would translate into more than four feet of snow.

The moderate to heavy rains expected early Thursday are the spawn of a low-pressure system off the Georgia coast and the remnants of the short-lived Tropical Storm Nicole. That system broke up over Florida about 5 p.m. Wednesday, after causing flooding and mudslides across Jamaica.

"Even though she's gone, her moisture will come up as planned," Stephen Konarik, a meteorologist for the National Weather Service, said Wednesday night.

Flooding and downed trees were the big worry in the Washington area.

The District offered residents five sandbags per household, provided they show up at New Jersey Avenue and K Street SE to collect the 40- to 50-pounders.

Cleaning sewers to help the water escape was a big goal on Wednesday.

"Whenever we have a big storm, we put our tree crews on notice and we make sure storm drains are cleared out on the roadways," said Joan Morris, a spokeswoman for the Virginia Department of Transportation.

Morris pointed out that most people tend to know where to expect high waters in their neighborhoods. (Her hint to Northern Virginians: Watch out on Beulah Road in Fairfax County and Swinks Mill Road in McLean.)

Before the deluge arrived, Prince George's County sent out "Jet-Vac" crews to suck debris out of storm drains in areas that are flood prone.

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