3:24 p.m. update: The heaviest rain continues to fall east of I-95 and the flash flood watch has been discontinued in northern Fauquier, Loudoun, Montgomery, and Howard counties, and locations to the west and north.

2:12 p.m. update: A Flash Flood Warning has been issued for Charles, southern Prince George’s, southern Anne Arundel and northern Calvert counties through 5 p.m. Already up to 3 inches of rain has fallen in this area – especially Charles County – and another inch or so is possible.

Radar & lightning:Latest D.C. area radar shows movement of precipitation and lightning strikes over past two hours. Refresh page to update. Click here or on image to enlarge. Or see radar bigger on our Weather Wall.

Original post: A large area of rain, with embedded downpours, is pushing across the Mid-Atlantic this afternoon.  Given recent rains and saturated grounds, the National Weather Service has issued a Flash Flood Watch through 6 p.m.

Localized areas could see one to three inches of rain, enough to cause flash flooding of low lying areas and creeks and streams.

Rain timing:

Rain, some heavy, has already enveloped the metro region.  The heaviest rainfall is expected between 2 and 5 p.m., with rain tapering off between 6 and 8 p.m. from southwest to northeast in all likelihood.

Rainfall amounts

Although amounts of 1-3 inches are possible in the watch area, the distribution of rainfall will be highly variable.  Model and radar trends tend to favor locations to the south and southeast for the heaviest rains. North of the District, amounts will probably be around half an inch or less.

(Left) Rainfall projection from high resolution NAM model. (Right) Simulated radar at 4 p.m. from high resolution NAM model (WeatherBell.com)

Flood safety:

* Remember: Never drive across a flooded road.  Turn around, don’t drown.

* Keep kids away from creeks and streams.