On the second floor of a downtown Frederick restaurant, Bryan Chaney and others at a community meeting could barely hear the speaker as rain and hail pelted the windows Tuesday night.
At first, he didn’t think Tuesday’s storm would be that bad but realized quickly that weather was deteriorating.
“It was getting darker and darker, and then we heard the thunder, and then the hail, and it was relentless,” said Chaney, who was at Brewer’s Alley on Market Street in downtown Frederick. When he looked outside he saw the water was about two feet deep as some cars tried to drive through it.
“It was a huge storm, and it just seemed like it parked over Frederick and didn’t move,” said Chaney, who has lived in the Frederick area since 2002.
Golf-ball-size hail and up to six inches of rain fell in about two hours, overwhelming creeks and flooding roads. Several roads in the Frederick area remained closed Wednesday morning as crews monitored receding waters, while part of Route 180 north of Route 17 was washed away.
There were no reports of serious injuries during storms that drenched much of the Washington region and inundated Frederick and parts of Loudoun County.
Flash flooding left chunks of broken asphalt and guardrails knocked over along flooded roads. At Baker Park in Frederick, residents rescued koi stranded in puddles in grassy fields after a nearby pond overflowed.
Frederick Mayor Michael O’Connor said he spent hours touring the damage. He said equipment at the city’s water pumping station was damaged, several city vehicles were flooded, and parks will need repairs.
Much of the cleanup involved flooded basements and debris stuck in fences. A YMCA building damaged by flooding was closed as crews cleaned up.
O’Connor said the city is “absolutely grateful that it wasn’t worse.”
“No one wants to deal with this,” he said. “If the only thing we’re dealing with is property damage, we certainly dodged a big bullet.”
Along with destructive winds and torrential rain, the system generated a meteotsunami, a tsunami-like surge of waves and water along the Atlantic coast triggered by rapid changes in air pressure, according to The Washington Post’s Capital Weather Gang.
The storm dropped six inches of rain across parts of Frederick and Burkittsville, Md., about 40 miles northwest of Washington. Frederick officially received four inches, but because the rainfall came in such a short period, the ground couldn’t absorb it fast enough.
A MARC commuter train was stuck for hours Tuesday night along the Brunswick Line because of flooded tracks. White’s Ferry was closed because of high water on the Potomac River.
In Frederick, the 911 call center for the city and county received 925 calls for service from about 7 p.m. Tuesday to 1 a.m. Wednesday. Officials received more than 55 calls involving motorists stranded along roads Tuesday night, according to fire and police departments. Dozens of calls came from residents reporting flooding at their homes and businesses.
“It was pretty unique for us,” said Kevin Fox, Frederick County’s deputy fire chief. “It was a very active night for us.”
The storm was part of a larger weather system blamed for five deaths in New York, Connecticut and Pennsylvania. Among those killed was an 11-year-old girl from Newburg, N.Y., who was in a car when a large tree fell on it.
Heavy rain will continue in the Washington region, with waterlogged air converging over the Washington area through early Saturday, setting the stage for torrential rainfall and possible flooding. The wet weather pattern will continue into next week, although the coverage and intensity of rainfall should ease, according to the Capital Weather Gang.
Brooke Loewenstein of Frederick let family and friends know via Facebook that she and her family were okay after the storm. “We are all fine,” she wrote, “though if this weather doesn’t end soon, Piper says she’s moving to a desert.”