"Current forecasts show that Baltimore County should not experience the kind coastal flooding caused by tidal surge that we saw during Hurricane Isabel," the site says. "Most of the damage will be the result of wind and rain."

Smith Island in the bay was evacuated early Saturday, and Somerset County officials recommended that residents evacuate any flood-prone areas, emergency planner Victoria Lloyd said. Conditions in the county deteriorated overnight, with wind gusts exceeding 50 mph.

The number of residents calling for help, especially the elderly and others with special needs, increased throughout the day as fears rose.

"Some people thought they could stay and wait out the storm," Lloyd said late Saturday afternoon. "They're getting nervous now and asking for transportation."

In Calvert County, an evacuation notice was issued for residents living within 100 feet of the fragile cliffs along the Chesapeake Bay. "The storm brings the potential for high winds, heavy rain and large battering waves in the bay that may pose a danger for unstable cliff areas," according to a statement on the county's website.

BGE had 3,800 employees, contractors and repair crews from as far away as Kentucky ready to assist with repairs after Irene's departure. The utility said it was planning for 350,000 to 500,000 outages in its service area. BGE and Pepco had three times as many crews as they did during the major snowstorms known as "Snowmageddon" that hit Maryland in February 2010.

O'Malley, at the state Emergency Operations Center inReisterstown, said power outages and flooding were a "huge concern of ours both for emergency operations and protection of our people at shelters."

"Already, the rain bands are starting to dump a lot of water on the rivers and streams," he said Saturday evening.

But forecasters expect the first rays of sunshine by Sunday afternoon, starting in Western Maryland. And early next week will bring sunny skies, light winds and temperatures in the low 80s.

Transportation networks will start putting their operations back together Sunday. Dean, the BWI spokesman, said the preliminary plan is for most airlines to resume operations Sunday afternoon.

"Obviously that's dependent on conditions locally as well as throughout their networks," he said.

Amtrak suspended service north of Jacksonville, Fla., and east of Toledo, Ohio and Indianapolis, Indiana.

Irene came ashore near Cape Lookout, N.C., on Saturday morning, a Category 1 hurricane, with top sustained winds of 85 mph. The storm was weakening as it passed over land. Top sustained winds were down to 80 mph by 5 p.m. Saturday. But rain totals piled up on Delmarva, with flood warnings posted for the southernmost Maryland counties. Elsewhere, residents and public officials braced for a night of rising winds, rising tides and intense rain.

Irene remained a large, dangerous storm overnight, capable of unloading tremendous rain and wind on the region as it passed along the coast.

National Weather Service meteorologist Kevin Witt said wind and rain wrapping around the southwestern side of the storm Sunday morning would continue to complicate life in Central Maryland.

"Winds will still be out of the northwest," he said. "You'll be looking at sustained winds of 35 to 45 mph. … For gusts, you're probably looking at between 50 and 60, especially up into Harford County. The farther east you go, the tendency is for winds to be a little stronger."

He said to expect light to moderate rain in the Hagerstown and Frederick vicinity, with about one-third to three-quarters of an inch Sunday morning. In Harford and Baltimore, the rain is expected to be heavy about 4 a.m., tapering off as early as 6 a.m. An end to the rain and the first sunshine may not appear until late afternoon, Witt said.

By Monday, things should look much better.

"We'll finally get a chance to dry out," Witt said.

<i>Sun reporters Susan Reimer and Steve Kilar contributed to this article.</i>

frank.roylance@baltsun.com

erik.maza@baltsun.com