Baltimore recorded what was likely its lowest low tide in nearly three decades on Thursday, as the East Coast “bomb cyclone” storm’s winds pushed waters out of the harbor.
The Patapsco River was more than 3 ½ feet below its normal low tide level at Fort McHenry, according to the National Weather Service.
It was the result of the massive storm that is moving up the East Coast — the counterpoint to historic flooding being reported in Boston on Thursday. The timing and direction of the storm’s powerful winds meant that they were blowing waters out of Baltimore’s harbor around low tide, and overflowing Boston’s waterfront around high tide.
The Boston area was simultaneously under blizzard warnings and coastal flood warnings Thursday, with as much as a foot of blowing snow and high tides as much as 3 ½ feet above normal.
“It’s related to the strength of the winds and the strength of the storm,” said Jason Elliott, senior service hydrologist for the National Weather Service’s Baltimore/Washington forecast office in Sterling, Va.
Weather service data showed that the waters off Fort McHenry hit 3.49 feet below what is known as the mean lower low water at 12:36 p.m., about an hour and a half before the expected low tide. It fell 3.58 feet below that mark by 1:12 p.m., the lowest reading there since November 1989.
The storm has sent howling winds across the Chesapeake Bay. Gusts as strong as 77 mph were reported at the mouth of the bay, while gusts exceeded 40 mph at the Francis Scott Key Bridge.
Strong winds from the northwest are expected to continue blowing waters out of Baltimore’s harbor in the coming days, Elliott said, keeping tide levels lower than normal but likely not as low as Thursday’s.