Significant risk of flooding as DC region eyes more stormy weather

Tuesday offered a brief respite from heavy rainfall for many in the D.C. region, but scattered showers and thunderstorms associated with the remnants of former Tropical Strom Fred may affect the afternoon rush and your late evening and overnight plans. Here’s what you need to know.

A waterlogged atmosphere and the oncoming rain spell a persistent flood risk over the next few days.

Scattered showers and thunderstorms develop again Tuesday afternoon, with heavy downpours lasting into the overnight hours. Days of flood woes in Northern Virginia and Maryland mean anyone living in an area vulnerable to high water should be especially vigilant.

There is also an increased threat of some damaging winds from the thunderstorms, and an isolated tornado can’t be ruled out at this time, Storm Team4 meteorologist Matt Ritter said.

“The very nature of this setup in the atmosphere means that the pockets of heaviest rain will be very hard to pin down on location and timing,” Storm Team4 meteorologist Chuck Bell said.

“With such warm and humid air remaining in place, any additional rains that do develop could easily lead to the issuance of more watches or warnings.”

The heavy rain and storms will taper off Wednesday evening followed by just isolated chances for a shower the rest of the workweek. It will stay very warm and very humid, but stay out of the 90s.

While most of the D.C. area’s recent rainfall can be traced back to the influence of a sluggish warm front, a plume of moisture emanating from Fred will become the dominant weather feature from Wednesday into early Thursday.

As of Tuesday morning, a radar mosaic of the East Coast showed light rain from the weakening storm spreading up the Tennessee Valley after its landfall Monday along the Florida panhandle. That moisture will build over the Interstate 81 corridor through Virginia Tuesday and Tuesday night.

The National Hurricane Center calls for Fred — now a tropical depression — to skirt the Appalachians and move over West Virginia. Under that forecast, its steadiest rains would remain well to the west of D.C. and Baltimore, with scattered storms in store for the capital region. But as with many tropical systems, small nudges in track could make a major difference.

“Several inches of rain will be possible with a threat for flooding,” the National Weather Service said in its forecast discussion for the D.C. region, adding that “the threat for any thunderstorms that develop to the east of the track will be capable of turning severe, and perhaps spawn tornadoes.”

Three-day precipitation totals for the immediate D.C. region are running as high as 6 inches, much of it having fallen in the span of a few hours overnight from Saturday into Sunday — when some Alexandria and Fairfax County residents woke up to streets resembling rivers.

Monday night’s storms turned a segment of D.C.’s Broad Branch Drive into rapids, rendering it impassable between Beach Drive and Brandywine Street: “Large debris including rocks, logs and trash cans were left in the roadway after the water receded,” WTOP’s Dave Dildine said.

Virginia officials blocked off roadways around Catoctin Creek in Taylorstown and Little Pimmit Run near Rivercrest. In Montgomery County, Maryland, the northern branch of the Anacostia River briefly surged above its flood stage.


Tuesday: Cloudy, warm and humid. Periods of rain with local flooding possible. Highs in the low to mid 80s.

Tuesday night: Cloudy and humid with periods of rain. Lows in the mid 70s.

Wednesday: Cloudy, warm and humid. Rain and thunder likely with totals of one-half inch or more. Highs in the low to mid 80s.

Thursday: Sun and clouds. Very humid. Highs in the mid to upper 80s.

Friday: Sun and clouds, still humid. Highs in the low to mid 80s.

Current conditions:

WTOP’s Dave Dildine and Abigail Constantino contributed to this report.

Alejandro Alvarez

Alejandro Alvarez joined WTOP as a digital reporter and editor in June 2018. He is a writer and photojournalist focusing on politics, political activism and national affairs, with recent multimedia contributions to Reuters, MSNBC and PBS.

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