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'Nothing particularly serious' about Monday's heavy rain storm

The Bel Air area and north were pounded Monday afternoon and evening by heavy rains that closed some local roads, but otherwise didn't cause any serious problems, the county's director of emergency services said.

"As far as I know, there was nothing particularly serious about any of the calls that I'm aware of," Edward Hopkins, the DES chief, said.

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Fire and rescue crews, however, were kept busy responding to multiple reports of high water and possible rescues, though none was a confirmed rescue, as well as accidents and alarm bells sounding.

By 9 p.m. Monday, the weather station at the county's Emergency Operations Center had recorded 3.44 inches of rain in about 12 hours, Hopkins said.

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Rainfall totals around Bel Air ranged from 2.67 inches to 4.64 inches, according to a National Weather Service meteorologist.

Meteorologist Dan Hofmann, who is with the NWS' Baltimore-Washington office in Sterling, Va., said Tuesday that 2.67 inches was recorded at an automated station two miles east-southeast of Bel Air. He said 3.34 inches was measured by a volunteer two miles west of Bel Air and another volunteer two miles east of town recorded 4.64 inches.

Hofmann said rainfall amounts are typically "very sporadic, very localized" during the type of storm that hit Monday, which is known as a "convection."

He said convections are formed by "heat and unstable atmosphere."

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A light drizzle fell in Bel Air Tuesday afternoon, and Hofmann said patchy fog and light rain is predicted for today (Wednesday). More rain is expected Wednesday night and early Thursday.

Hofmann called the predicted weather "more of your typical rain," compared to Monday's storm.

"It's enough to get everything wet, but not the persistent, repeated downpours that we saw," he said.

Fire, multiple roads closed

At around 8:30 p.m. Monday, the Bel Air Volunteer Fire Company responded to the 600 block of Camelot Drive for a report of a fire at a one-story house that had been struck by lightning.

The Harford County Emergency Operations Center was activated around 5:30 p.m. to a Level 2, which brings in law enforcement, EMS, fire and rescue crews as well as county public works staff to monitor the storm, Hopkins said.

Between 6 and 9 p.m. Monday, roads in about 10 areas of the county were closed or under caution for high water or trees down, including Belair Road between Milton Avenue and Route 152; the Route 1 Bypass (trees down); MacPhail and Glenangus roads (trees down); Rock Spring Church Road (trees down); Moores Mill Road and Major's Choice Drive; Singer and Winters Run roads; Tollgate Road between Normandy Lane and Plumtree Road; Patterson Mill and Wheel roads; Old Joppa and Whitaker Mill roads; and the 300 block of North Fountain Green Road.

"They are areas where you typically see high water," Hopkins said. "The lower end of the county wasn't impacted as much. Clearly they had some rain, but not nearly as much as the Bel Air area and north."

All roads had reopened as of Tuesday afternoon. Franklin Church Road in Darlington was still closed as of Tuesday morning because of a fallen tree, but it was cleared by the afternoon, according to Harford County government spokesperson Cindy Mumby.

Hopkins urged residents that even though storms that bring sudden large amounts of rain may be over, there are residual effects to be aware of and the danger has not necessarily passed.

"Any stream that is uphill, it has to run downhill. There's a real possibility the streams could overflow banks and roadways," he said.

Drivers should reduce their speeds and pay attention to road conditions, be aware of standing water and don't drive through it.

"Turn around and go a different way," he said, and if headlights are on, windshield wipers have to be on.

Fortunately, in terms of flooding, Hopkins said, the previous rain Sunday night and early Monday morning saturated the ground, which otherwise wouldn't have been able to absorb all of Monday's afternoon and evening's rain.

Because the ground is so soft, however, Hopkins cautioned there is potential for trees and power lines to topple.

Power outages during the storm were minimal. BGE reported 41 customers without power at the height of the rain Monday afternoon, and that number was down to 23 customers by 9 p.m.

Delmarva Power representatives could not be reached Tuesday afternoon about any possible outages in their service area in northeastern Harford.

Aegis staff member David Anderson contributed to this story.

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