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Several are rescued after downpours cause flash flooding

Floods and FloodingBaltimore WeatherNational Weather ServiceHarbor Hospital

A homeless woman whose wooded campsite in Glen Burnie was swallowed by flash flooding amid heavy rain Tuesday morning was swept 3,000 feet down a creek — including through a culvert beneath Governor Ritchie Highway — before being rescued.

"She was extremely, extremely lucky," said Chief Keith Swindle, an Anne Arundel County Fire Department spokesman. "She could have been trapped. There's tons of debris down there."

About 1.3 inches of rain fell at BWI Thurgood Marshall Airport between 9 a.m. and 11 a.m., and flash flooding occurred around the region, leading into snow flurries Tuesday night. In Baltimore, two people were rescued from the roof of a van that became stuck in the water, city fire officials said.

Two inches of rain fell by Tuesday afternoon at BWI as a cold front moved through, bringing thunder and lightning before dropping temperatures sharply. The chill was forecast to bring snow flurries in Western Maryland overnight, with subfreezing temperatures expected across Central Maryland.

The 57-year-old woman in Glen Burnie, who was not identified, had called 911 shortly before 10:30 a.m. from her campsite, saying she was surrounded by water and trapped, Swindle said.

Soon after, as nearby Sawmill Creek continued to rise, she was swept into the water near Furnace Branch Road and Crain Highway before passing through the culvert, Swindle said.

Firefighters pulled her from the creek and she was taken to MedStar Harbor Hospital, where she was treated for minor injuries, Swindle said.

Also about 10:30 a.m., members of the Baltimore Fire Department's special operations command were called to North Point Road and Kane Street in the Pulaski industrial area, where two vehicles were stuck in the flooded intersection. When firefighters arrived, they saw a truck whose occupants had abandoned it and a van with two people on its roof, said Ian Brennan, a department spokesman.

Two members of the city's swift-water rescue team boarded an inflatable boat and pulled the two people — who were not identified — to safety. Neither needed medical attention, and neither was taken to a hospital.

"It's one of those parts of the world that will flood during a quick heavy rain," Brennan said, "and people should know better than to drive down that road when you can't see the bottom."

Kurt Kocher, a spokesman for the city's Public Works Department, said the city has studied the low-lying intersection.

"We've done some temporary fixes there to try to alleviate the fact that water ponds there, and there are design plans to get a permanent fix," he said.

Drivers should never enter standing water, even if it looks shallow, Kocher said.

"Just a few inches of standing water can cause you big headaches and possibly threaten your life," he said.

As the downpours passed through, temperatures fell from an afternoon high of 67 degrees at BWI into the 40s within hours.

The National Weather Service reported a light snow falling across most of Baltimore County, with up to a half inch accumulating as of 9 p.m. Tuesday. Snow was expected to fall until around midnight, at which point temperatures were projected to drop below freezing.

"Any accumulation should be mostly on grassy surfaces," NWS meteorologist Amy Bettwy said, adding that only trace amounts had been recorded in the city.

Lows early Wednesday were forecast to be in the 20s in the suburbs and the lower 30s downtown.

Temperatures were expected to flirt with freezing Wednesday night into Thursday morning before seasonable temperatures, with highs around 60 and lows in the 40s, return Thursday and Friday.

Baltimore Sun reporter Scott Dance contributed to this article.

krector@baltsun.com

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Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun
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Floods and FloodingBaltimore WeatherNational Weather ServiceHarbor Hospital
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