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Flash flood warnings in historic Ellicott City are often a source of anxiety. And for good reason.

The National Weather Service placed the community under a flash flood warning in May 2018, when more than 8 inches of rain fell in the span of two hours and created a deadly, catastrophic flood.

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Earlier this month, NWS alerted Ellicott City residents the area was under a flash flood warning. The alert put many on their toes, but unnecessarily so. While the greater Ellicott City area was under the warning, the historic district was only under a flash flood watch, a less severe notice.

Howard County received criticism from many on social media who, for hours, had presumed they were at a heightened risk for severe flooding.

To cut down on confusion, Howard County officials requested NWS create a more specific designation for the historic district, which sits in the Tiber-Hudson watershed. NWS has complied, according to Jason Elliott, a senior service hydrologist for the Baltimore-Washington office.

From now on, if all or part of the Tiber-Hudson watershed is affected, NWS will use “historic Ellicott City” as an identifier. If only the larger “Ellicott City” is affected, the historic district is not included. If both “historic Ellicott City” and “Ellicott City” appear in the same warning, both areas, at least partially, are under the specified threat.

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