A bout of heavy rain is moving through the Baltimore area Wednesday morning as remnants of Hurricane Ida move through Maryland, prompting the National Weather Service to issue a flood watch for parts of the region until 10:45 a.m.
Meteorologists had previously issued a tornado watch for the Baltimore area, but as of 7 a.m., it appeared to have been lifted.
With the storm projected to dump up to 6 inches of rain in some parts of the mid-Atlantic, here’s what’s expected.
Heavy rainfall moves in Wednesday
A first wave of rainfall dropped as much as 2.5 inches of rain in some parts of the Baltimore area, preceding a lull in precipitation before the full effects of Ida reach the area.
As Ida moves north from North Carolina, it is expected to clash with an elongated area of low atmospheric pressure, dumping rain north of Washington, meteorologists with the weather service wrote in an online forecast discussion.
They predicted “embedded supercell” thunderstorms will bring “torrential rainfall” through the D.C. metro area and north.
Early morning rain should break after rush hour, the forecasters wrote, only for the “bulk of” precipitation from Ida to move into the area later in the morning into the afternoon, bringing anywhere from 3 to 6 inches of rain.
“There will be several periods where the rain is pretty heavy for several hours,” said Connor Belak, a meteorologist in the weather service’s Sterling, Virginia, office.
“This amount of heavy rainfall will not only result in the potential for considerable flash flooding of creeks, small streams, and urban areas, but also the potential for river flooding on the main stem rivers,” forecasters wrote in a flash flood warning.
High atmospheric instability could pave the way for powerful thunderstorms and tornadoes in the afternoon, meteorologists wrote in the discussion, though the weather service appeared to lift the tornado watch for the Baltimore area.
The forecast calls for a steady northeast breeze between 6 and 11 mph Wednesday, shifting to southeast in the afternoon. Gusts could blow up to 18 mph during the day and as high as 25 mph overnight.
The high Wednesday should be near is 79 degrees, dropping to around 60 overnight.
Rain is expected to persist throughout, departing the area by 8 a.m. Thursday, according to the forecast. Waterways will likely continue to be very elevated.
Storm closures, damage
The Maryland State Fair closed Wednesday, citing the inclement weather, and will reopen Thursday at noon, spokeswoman Edie Bernier said.
Its decision follows early reports of flooding.
The union representing Baltimore firefighters and emergency responders reported several flooded city streets Wednesday morning including: South Hanover Street from Frankfurst to Reedbird avenues and Key Highway at McComas Street.
Meanwhile, emergency officials in Baltimore County warned motorists to avoid North Point Boulevard and Kane Street under the I-95 overpass,
“Some early morning downpours are moving through the county. These storms are the pre-game to the larger flooding event to come later on today,” the officials Tweeted.
Four roads in Montgomery County were closed on account of flooding early Wednesday morning, according to weather service reports.
Advisories and precautions
The expected heavy rainfall from Ida has prompted forecasters on Tuesday to issue a flash flood watch for the Baltimore region in anticipation of when Ida reaches the state sometime Wednesday. The watch will be in effect from Wednesday morning through Thursday morning.
“This amount of heavy rainfall will not only result in the potential for considerable flash flooding of creeks, small streams, and urban areas, but also the potential for river flooding on the main stem rivers,” forecasters wrote.
The National Weather Service Storm Prediction Center placed Baltimore and much of Maryland at enhanced risk for severe weather Wednesday. It also warned of a 10% chance of a tornado in the same area.
“There will be a lot of wind in the atmosphere,” Belak said.
As a result, various jurisdictions are calling on residents to take precautions and offering various resources to assist them.
Howard County instituted parking restrictions for Ellicott City, the site of two devastating floods in recent years. From 8 a.m. Wednesday through the same time Thursday, no parking is allowed on Main Street between Ellicott Mills Drive and the Patapsco River and on Maryland Avenue between Main Street and St. Paul Street.
“Park vehicles in higher ground lots,” Howard County officials said in a tweet.
In Harford County, schools will close at 11 a.m. Wednesday due to the impending inclement weather. Students are not yet back in the classrooms, but officials are asking staff to work remotely if possible.
In Annapolis, parts of which have also been subject to flooding, city officials plan to distribute up 40 tons of sand, making shovels and sandbags available, according to a news release. Residents can have up to five bags, while businesses are eligible for 10.
Meteorologists issued a coastal flood watch for Anne Arundel County through Thursday morning, with the water level in the Severn River near Annapolis already reportedly high, according to the weather service’s Middle Atlantic River Forecast Center.
Annapolis officials said Wednesday the city would be prepared to deploy damage-assessment teams considering the potential for downed trees and power lines.
Baltimore City will also have limited numbers of sandbags for residents, available on a first-come, first-served basis.
The city’s Department of Transportation wrote that residents can get sandbags at the intersection of Thames and Broadway in Fells Point, at Still Meadow Church at 5110 Frederick Ave. and at 2601 Spellman Road in Cherry Hill from 7 a.m. to 11 a.m. Wednesday.
The department also encouraged people who live in areas prone to flooding to move their vehicles to higher ground, especially in the Harbor East, Fells Point and Canton neighborhoods.
Residents can find more information, including some suggested parking areas for Fells Point residents, by following this link.
The Maryland Department of Transportation announced that MARC’s Brunswick Line will be operating with very limited services Wednesday. MARC plans to operate the Camden and Penn lines at full service, but passengers are reminded that severe weather can result in multiple types of warnings and speed restrictions issued by CSX or Amtrak.
Belak said the rainfall is expected to depart the area by 8 a.m. Thursday.
“In large, it should be out by sunrise Thursday,” Belak said.
Thursday afternoon should be partly sunny with a chance of rain, a high temperature near 78 and 14-16 mph winds with gusts as high as 29 mph.
The forecast from Friday to Sunday calls for sunny skies and highs ranging from 78 to 82 degrees. Labor Day should be mostly sunny with scattered showers and a high near 83.
Baltimore Sun reporter Phil Davis contributed to this article.