Don't panic just yet. We've all heard the reports about the shortfall of rain in the Potomac River basin during March, but it hasn't yet created a crisis, according to officials at the U.S. Geological Survey.
The survey's hydrologists said, "The average freshwater inflow to Chesapeake Bay, of which the Potomac River is a large contributor with the Susquehanna biggest with 60 percent . . . decreased in March, but remained about 10 percent above the long-term average for the month." In other words, somewhat more water than normal.
At Little Falls, just above Washington, the Potomac's flow averaged 17.1 billion gallons a day during March, about 8 percent above the long-term average for the month.
According to Geological Survey hydrologist Myron Lys, stationed in the Baltimore suburb of Towson, the Potomac flow is on a seesaw -- well above normal in late 1985, well below in the early months of 1986. And the water table index, rated by a well in the northeastern Montgomery County community of Fairland, is a foot below the long-term average.
In March, the largest Potomac flow was 79.5 billion gallons, which occurred on the 16th.
The record stream flow for the month, set 50 years ago on March 19, 1936, was 313 billion gallons -- a torrent that led President Franklin D. Roosevelt to go to Chain Bridge for a look.
As a result of structural damage caused by that flood, Chain Bridge was closed, and was reopened only after reconstruction in 1939. There weren't so many commuters in those days.
The Wheels of Justice
Hooray! Hooray! Hooray! Hooray! On Thursday afternoon, a bicycle courier going eastbound on L Street ran a red light at 15th Street. Behind him was a D.C. policeman on a motorbike. The officer flashed his red light and pulled the bicyclist over to the curb, to give him a ticket -- the first I've ever seen a cop give a biker, even though others surely must have been given.
Metro Scene would like to tell you how much that ticket might cost the biker, but from 1 p.m. till well after 3 p.m. yesterday, all telephone lines into the D.C. Traffic Adjudication Office constantly rang busy, making an inquiry impossible. Can't one of the D.C. government's profit centers afford more phone lines and clerks?
As one who got his start as a high school journalist, I'll pass along a worthwhile announcement from Howard University's Journalism Department: Applications are now available for Washington area high school journalists, grades 10 through 12, to attend Howard's summer urban journalism workshop from June 23 through July 11. A total of 20 students will be chosen.
Students selected to attend the three-week free program will write and edit stories for a workshop newspaper to be produced by the Rosslyn-based national daily, USA Today. Students also will tour local newspaper and broadcast facilities and meet the pros who work there.
Interested? Write Francis L. Murphy, Journalism Department, Howard University, Washington, D.C. 10059, or call 636-7856.