One down, one to go.
The remnants of Tropical Storm Bonnie veered east of the Washington region yesterday, but weather forecasters advised that the area isn't clear of potentially nasty weather yet. What's left of Hurricane Charley could reach the area this afternoon and bring flooding rains with it.
Charley hammered Florida yesterday and is expected to travel up the East Coast today, losing some of its force but retaining the potential to dump two to four inches of rain here. If that happens, meteorologists said, flooding is likely because the ground in many places is saturated from recent heavy rains.
"We're anticipating that if Charley continues on his course, he'll be in our neighborhood by Saturday afternoon and hang around through Sunday morning," said Jackie Hale, a spokeswoman for the National Weather Service's Baltimore-Washington office in Sterling. "Charley is quite a bit stronger [than Bonnie], and his path is a little more inland than Bonnie's."
That projected inland route would carry it through Virginia, the District and Maryland, Hale said.
Although Bonnie generally steered clear of the Washington area, the low-pressure system accompanying that storm dumped about an inch of rain on most of the region between Thursday night and yesterday morning. Significantly higher totals fell on a few scattered areas, including the District's National Arboretum, which reported 2.25 inches of rain between 7 p.m. Thursday and 7 a.m. yesterday.
The recent rains have caused rivers and creeks to rise, which means flooding is likely if Charley doesn't skirt the area. The Weather Service issued a flood watch for the region for this afternoon through tomorrow morning.
Some of the southern Virginia jurisdictions that caught some of Bonnie's moisture and would be hit if Charley follows its projected course spent much of yesterday preparing for the possibility of more water this weekend. In Danville, a city of about 50,000, about three inches of rain fell Thursday night, trees toppled and households were left without power.
"The key for us is to clean up the streets before the next storm arrives," said Todd Yeatts, Danville's assistant city manager. "We have trees that we need to get out of the way so that responders can get around tomorrow if needed."
Closer to Washington, in the areas generally bypassed by Bonnie, officials monitored weather forecasts and placed employees on call for the weekend, just in case.
"We're really in a wait-and-see posture," said Jo'Ellen Countee, a spokeswoman for the D.C. Emergency Management Agency.
Alexandria city workers distributed sandbags to businesses and residents in flood-prone, low-lying areas, including the Old Town business district. On Thursday night, the city began allowing public access to a sand pile where residents could fill their own sandbags. The six cubic yards of sand, at 500 S. Union St., had shrunk by about one-third by yesterday afternoon, city spokeswoman Barbara Gordon said.
Metro reported minor flood problems caused by Thursday's rains, and spokeswoman Lisa Farbstein said extra workers, portable generators and sandbags will be at the ready in case of more problems this weekend.
One of three entrances to the Farragut North Station was closed about 5:45 p.m. Thursday after water poured into the station's mezzanine level and began raining onto the platform below, transit officials said. Farbstein said the water came into the station through the walls at the entrance at the southwest corner of L Street and Connecticut Avenue NW. The entrance, which was reopened yesterday, was also closed last month after part of a ceiling collapsed.
Also on Thursday evening, rainwater covered a section of Metro track between Reagan National Airport and Braddock Road on the Blue and Yellow lines, forcing trains to operate on a single set of tracks. Delays were estimated at 20 minutes, Farbstein said, and regular service resumed about an hour later.
For the third day in a row, Amtrak today plans to cancel eight long-distance trains scheduled between New York and Florida. Among those canceled is the Auto Train, which carries passengers and cars between Lorton and Sanford, Fla. A decision about tomorrow's schedule will be made late this afternoon, Amtrak spokeswoman Marcie Golgoski said. Updates will be available at Amtrak's Web site, www.amtrak.com, and at 800-USA-RAIL.
Staff writers Chris L. Jenkins, Lyndsey Layton and Sarah Park contributed to this report.