A series of slow-moving thunderstorms dumped several inches of rain today on scattered sections of Maryland south and north of Baltimore, causing some road flooding and power outages.
The rainfall -- and a promise of more of the same through tomorrow -- also brought a respite from the drought that for two months has had Maryland farmers concerned about their crops. State agriculture officials were hopeful the rain would stay around long enough to have a real impact.
The heaviest rains skirted Baltimore-Washington International Airport, where barely 0.13 inches was recorded through 7 a.m. But in Annapolis, about 1.62 inches fell by this afternoon. Weather service reporting stations said nearly 3.10 inches of rain fell at College Park, 3.32 inches at Damascus and 2.05 inches at Silver Spring.
Farther south, the weather service reported one inch of rain fell in 15 minutes at Warrenton in Fauquier County, Va.
"There's no formula for why heavy rains fall in one location and not another," said Fred Davis, chief meteorologist at the National Weather Service. "Some areas will develop more than others and it depends on how much moisture and heat is available. We rarely have thunderstorms move in a line across the state."
Sgt. Barry Janney of the State Police barracks at College Park said the Capital Beltway near U.S. 1 was under several inches of water at the start of early-morning rush hour and traffic was slowed. The flooding there drained off by midmorning, Janney said.
State Police at North East in Cecil County said Md. 213 near the town of Cecil was temporarily flooded by a torrential downpour but that road eventually was cleared.
A spokesman for the National Weather Service at BWI said thunderstorms moved northeasterly through Maryland most of the morning. The storms were pushed by 10- to 15 mph winds.
Peggy Mulloy, a spokeswoman for the Baltimore Gas & Electric Co., said about 3,700 homeowners and businesses had electrical power knocked out, primarily in the Earleigh Heights section of ,, Anne Arundel County.
Mulloy said tree limbs and leaves, dry from the months-long drought in Maryland, quickly soaked up the rainwater and drooped onto power lines, knocking out the power.
"We have to be guided by the weather and if it becomes dangerous, our work will have to be interrupted," she said.
The sudden downpour today and predictions of more rain through tomorrow "will certainly be of some help," with the severe drought that has plagued the state, said Tony Evans, spokesman for the state Department of Agriculture.
Evans said Maryland had less than half the normal rainfall in March and one-third less than normal in April. With a drier than usual May, that converts to 5 to 6 inches less than the normal amount of precipitation by this time of year, he said.
The National Weather Service said rain and thunderstorms should continue through tonight with heavy downpours in scattered areas. The chance of rain and thunderstorms is 60 to 70 percent through tomorrow.