The Potomac River boiled, churned and even exploded into the air at Great Falls on Monday afternoon. Occasionally, spray from the river would land on the people watching from Overlook #1 at Great Falls Park. The crowd would cheer for the particularly big explosions of water. I have never seen the river appear so violent.
I photographed Great Falls late Monday afternoon not long before it crested Tuesday morning. While I photographed, the water level was slowly approaching the base of Overlook #1 but was not expected to rise above the overlook. National Park Service rangers on the scene told me they were considering closing the overlook later in the day because water could push up through the drainage system.
The water level at nearby Little Falls crested at 12.38 feet Tuesday morning, which is considered a moderate flood for that section of the Potomac River. It was well below the historic levels from past floods, however. The water level ranked 36th highest in records dating back to the 1930s.
Below is a photo from the flood of 1996, the fifth biggest on record, for comparison. During the 1996 flood, the river pushed well above all of the overlooks at the park.
Downstream, in Georgetown, the Potomac River crested at 9.63 feet Tuesday morning, more than 3.5 feet above flood stage, which is the highest level since March 15, 2010. It ranks as the 17th highest level in records that go back to the late 1800s.
The Potomac rose to these high levels because of an onslaught of heavy rain storms since the second week of May. Rainfall amounts reached 8 to 15 inches throughout the region, more than twice the normal.
Rivers levels are forecast to remain above flood stage through Tuesday night or early Wednesday but have mostly begun receding.
Below, find photos and video of the swollen Potomac River, both that I took and several from Capital Weather Gang readers.
Photos and video
In the District
Other sections of the Potomac upstream of the District
Capital Weather Gang’s Jason Samenow contributed to this post.