Rainfall statistics for Ellicott City

WASHINGTON — Not only was the flash flooding in Ellicott City deadly and damaging, it was also extremely unlikely. According to the National Weather Service office in Sterling, Virginia, the precipitation amounts that occurred have a “less than one tenth of 1 percent (less than 0.1 percent) chance of occurring in any year.”

ellicott rain
According to the National Weather Service, most of this rainfall fell within a two-hour period. (NOAA/National Weather Service)

The following is a table of rainfall amounts occurring within specific time frames of the worst of the thunderstorms. Note that this particular rain gauge reports in increments of 0.04 inch. These are incredible rainfall rates and simply overwhelmed the storm drainage infrastructure.



1 minute    0.20     7:51pm-7:52pm

5 minutes   0.80     7:50pm-7:55pm

10 minutes  1.44     7:50pm-8:00pm

15 minutes  2.04     7:46pm-8:01pm

20 minutes  2.48     7:44pm-8:04pm

30 minutes  3.16     7:36pm-8:06pm

60 minutes  4.56     7:30pm-8:30pm

90 minutes  5.52     7:00pm-8:30pm

2 hours     5.92     6:45pm-8:45pm

“Duration” refers to elapsed time after the rain started. The “amount” is a running total, not total within the specific time frame.

The storm total for Ellicott City was recorded as 6.50 inches.

This data is preliminary and is subject to correction.

Source: NOAA/National Weather Service

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