Rain falls short of record


When the weather record books are written, the past week of water torture might not leap off the pages the way you would think.

Many Marylanders have probably forgotten, but Baltimore-Washington International Thurgood Marshall Airport - the station of record for the city - got more rain in a shorter period of time as recently as October.

From Oct. 6 through Oct. 8, the region got a soaking from the remnants of Tropical Storm Tammy, one of the more forgettable tempests among last season's 28 tropical storms. In all, Tammy dropped 6.72 inches of rain at BWI in three days, compared with 5.47 inches over six days during this month's deluge.

Still, other locations received far more rain than BWI did over the past week. Torrential "training" showers formed and reformed over the same locations like passing box cars, boosting accumulations to more than 10 inches in at least 26 places in Maryland and Virginia.

Those amounts were similar to totals recorded in parts of Howard and Baltimore counties in June 1972, during Tropical Storm Agnes. But Agnes dropped its load of rain in just three days, an intensity that no doubt contributed to severe flooding, 118 deaths and $4 billion in destruction throughout the Northeast.

While the recent rains produced flooding and threaten more along the main stems of the Potomac and Susquehanna, most Maryland rivers and streams - running low after a dry spring - did not rise as far and as fast as they might have.

"I think the ground and soils were pretty dry, and probably a fair amount of that rainfall got stored in the soils before they really got saturated," said Andrew J. Miller, an associate professor of geography and environmental systems at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County.

He added that if the weather systems had stalled longer and kept the rains coming, as they did over the Upper Mississippi River Valley in 1993, "you would have had spectacular flooding."


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