High tides cause flooding in the mid-Atlantic region

Coastal communities in the central Atlantic states remained subject to flood warnings or advisories on Saturday as they examined damage ...


Coastal communities in the central Atlantic states remained subject to flood warnings or advisories on Saturday as they examined damage from the large, slow storm that sprayed areas of the region and caused some of the flooding. strongest tidal waves in the past two decades, according to meteorologists.

The storm and flooding affected towns and villages along the northern Virginia coast to the Chesapeake and Delaware Bay areas, to the New Jersey coast. Waters swept over Annapolis, Maryland, and Alexandria, Virginia, and the waterways surrounding Washington, DC and Philadelphia swelled.

Up and down the western shore of Chesapeake Bay, homes and businesses have been flooded and coastal roads have been submerged, transforming some coastal areas into islands. But surges in some areas have not been as damaging as some forecasters had feared.

In Baltimore, the Inner Harbor was underwater on Friday night, but on Saturday night, locals were back with their dogs and sitting on benches soaking up the sun as storm clouds rolled out of the area . Nearby, a section of historic Fells Point remained underwater, while workers from the Waterfront Partnership of Baltimore and affected companies cleared debris from sidewalks and brick streets where the water had receded. .

Baltimore County Director Johnny Olszewski visited the county on Saturday, studying the impact of the storm, and said on Twitter that flooding was continuing in some of the low-lying coastal areas.

“We have been very close to having bigger problems,” said James Wallace, director of the Baltimore City Emergency Management Office, adding that the effects of the flooding were less severe than expected due to the speed of the flood. wind diminishing around high tide.

Widespread precipitation brought one to two inches of precipitation across much of the Mid-Atlantic, with up to four inches in isolated areas along the I-95 Corridor.

Flooding could continue from Sunday to Monday morning in some areas, said Kevin Witt, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service. As of Saturday evening, no fatalities related to the storm were reported.

In downtown Annapolis, residents waded in a few feet of water on Saturday morning. The water had receded overnight, from a peak of just under five feet, according to David Mandell, deputy director of the Office of Emergency Management.

Maryland’s capital, which sits on Chesapeake Bay, regularly experiences tidal floods, which prompted the city to develop a pumping system to prevent flooding at high tide. But it didn’t live up to Friday night’s push.

“We’re used to flooding, and it’s kind of a flood beyond that,” Mandell said.

Around midnight on Friday, Mayor Gavin Buckley of Annapolis paddled downtown Dock Street in a kayak, inspecting damage to restaurants and shops. Flood waters had overflowed with sandbags at the gates of many businesses, causing “significant” damage that Buckley said would have an economic impact.

“We are barely recovering from Covid, so a lot of these companies are just getting back on their feet,” Mr Buckley said.

Jerry Donahoe, owner of Mills Fine Wine and Spirits, was asked about his store after checking the soaked sandbags. “It was bad,” he said. Still, he was optimistic, noting that the flooding turned out to be much less severe than during Hurricane Isabel, when his store was submerged in a foot and a half of water.

In 2003, Hurricane Isabel flooded the city with over seven feet of storm surge. But the latest wave was the highest level of flooding the city has seen that did not stem from a hurricane, Mr Mandell said.

The severity of the storm was caused by a confluence of high tides, wind and rain. “The magnitude of all of these factors made this a little unusual,” said Mr. Witt. Coastal flooding records have been broken along the shores of the Potomac River and Chesapeake Bay in the Solomon Islands and Straits Point in Maryland, and Dahlgren, Virginia.

High tides have also brought water levels along the Delaware River and upper Delaware Bay to approach some of their highest points on record. High winds along parts of the Atlantic coast peaked at around 60 miles per hour, according to Alex Staarmann, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service, knocking down trees and power lines. In New Jersey, about 4,000 homes went without power on Saturday.

The storm came just days after a Nor’easter battered coastlines of New England with hurricane-force winds, cutting power to hundreds of thousands of homes. Thousands of people went without power in Massachusetts on Saturday.

Mr Witt said the storm was part of a pattern of stronger storms affecting larger areas caused by climate change.

From 2000 to 2015, the incidence of high tide flooding in the central Atlantic doubled from three days to an average of six days per year, according to a 2018 report of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

“We are on the front line of climate change”, Mr Mandell spoke of Annapolis, which has a population of less than 40,000 but contains 17 miles of waterfront. “We see it regularly. “

JoAnna Daemmrich has contributed reporting for Annapolis and Maria Morales from Baltimore.

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