Flash flood warnings issued for DC region

Flash flood warnings issued for most of immediate D.C. area

The D.C. region is on the cusp of a Flash Flood Emergency, a rare occurrence that happens when extremely heavy rains lead to a severe threat to human life.

“This could be the worst flooding in three years,” Storm Team4 Meteorologist Mike Stinneford said.

A Flash Flood Emergency is when “CATASTROPHIC DAMAGE” from flash flooding occurs.

“Typically, emergency officials are reporting LIFE THREATENING water rises resulting in water rescues/evacuations,” the weather service stated.

The National Weather Service has issued a Flash Flood Warning until 12:45 p.m. for northeastern D.C., southeastern Montgomery County and northwestern Prince George’s County.

Flash Flood Warnings are also in effect until 12:15 p.m. for south-central Montgomery County, Arlington County, Northeastern Fairfax County, Alexandria and Falls Church. And, a Flash Flood Watch is in effect for Southern Maryland until 5 p.m.

“We are on the cusp of a Flash Flood Emergency. If heavy rain continues for the next half hour we are going to see a widespread and catastrophic flood event for the District and the close-in suburbs of Virginia and Maryland,” said Storm Team4 Meteorologist Mike Stinneford.

The National Weather Service has also issued a flood warning for the larger D.C. area noting heavy rainfall that occurred Friday morning, in addition to anticipated precipitation picked up on the NWS Doppler radar.

“At 755 AM EDT, Doppler radar indicated showers producing heavy rain across the warned area. Between 1 and 1.5 inches of rain have fallen. Additional rainfall amounts of 0.5 to 1.5 inches are possible in the warned area. Flash flooding is ongoing or expected to begin shortly,” the National Weather Service said.

“A Flood Warning is less severe than a Flash Flood Warning,” Stinneford said. “In a Flash Flood Warning, creeks and streams are expected to rise rapidly, and dry areas can be flooded in just minutes. A Flood Warning means that the ground is saturated, and any additional rain could cause creeks and streams to come out of their banks, but the rise of water will not be as rapid as what is seen during a Flash Flood.”

8:25 a.m. — Flash flood warning for most of immediate area

Radar indicates between 1 and 3 inches of rain has fallen over much of the area inside the Beltway and just to the north and west, prompting flash flood warnings which are in effect until the late morning hours. The warning area includes the District and areas just to the north, west and south including parts of Fairfax and Montgomery counties as well as Alexandria.

Today’s daily digit

A somewhat subjective rating of the day’s weather, on a scale of 0 to 10.

3/10: Cooler air is almost refreshing, if it weren’t for the high humidity. We also have to contend with periodic downpours, which may cause flash flooding through at least midday.

Express forecast

  • Today: Periodic downpours, with flooding possible. Strong storm or two? Highs: 76-82.
  • Tonight: Mostly cloudy. Shower/storm chance. Lows: 67-73.
  • Tomorrow: Lower rain chances, partly cloudy. Highs: 80s.
  • Sunday: Slight strong storm threat. Highs: Mid-80s to around 90.

Forecast in detail

Rain today could cause some flooding and we could see a few strong storms through the weekend. Coolness today turns into serious (and still muggy) warmth this weekend, then it’s hot again by the new workweek. The forecast below has enough uncertain moving parts to prevent high forecast confidence over the coming days.

Today (Friday): Periodic downpours and even a couple strong storms can’t be ruled out, compounding our flooding concerns due to saturated ground. It seems like the heaviest and most consistent should be south and east of Interstate 95 overall, but anyone could see some passing downpours, especially through midday and they could linger longer. Between rains, it’s cloudy with mid-70s to low 80s for high temperatures. That would feel nice if it weren’t for very uncomfortable humidity (dew points in the low to mid-70s). We can thank an upper-level, low-pressure system approaching from our west and tropical moisture left behind by Tropical Storm Fred.

Tonight: Showers and storms may persist for a while, but should not be as heavy or occur as often. Skies are mostly cloudy and we continue to stay muggy. This water-vapor-laden atmosphere doesn’t allow low temperatures to fall much below the upper 60s to low 70s by dawn.

Tomorrow (Saturday): High temperatures top out in the muggy 80s. Sunshine levels are lower confidence. Sunnier skies mean we could see some locations in the upper 80s; cloudier and rainier conditions than currently expected could halt us nearer to 80 degrees. Showers and downpours, including a couple strong to severe storms, remain possible in the afternoon. We’ll keep an eye on details as Tropical Storm Henri, staying offshore, makes its nearest approach to our area.

Tomorrow night: Skies should clear a bit after any last evening showers and storms pass through. Keep an eye out for the rising full moon with Jupiter nearby. Continued muggy low temperatures drop toward the upper 60s and low 70s. 

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