On Sunday, May 27, thunderstorms pounded the Baltimore region for hours. The storm morphed Old Ellicott City into a deadly flood zone. Here’s how it happened. (Baltimore Sun video)
On another day, a cold front headed toward the Baltimore area from Frederick might not have been anything to worry about.
But when it arrived Sunday over Ellicott City and Catonsville, the accompanying slow-moving rain storms had mixed with tropical moisture overhead from the Atlantic Ocean and Gulf of Mexico. Stuck in place by the cold front, the “training thunderstorms” — they follow one another like train cars -- pounded the region for hours.
The Hudson and Tiber tributaries, already at or near capacity from a rainy few weeks, came raging straight down Main Street, sending parked cars into buildings, carrying away a National Guardsmen attempting to rescue a shop owner and destroying the historic district again, less than two years after the fatal flood in 2016.
The following timeline of the flooding shows just how quickly the rain morphed Old Ellicott City into a deadly flood zone.
4 p.m. An estimated 1-2 inches of rain have fallen in Ellicott City and Catonsville. An impassible torrent of water rushes west down Frederick Road toward the historic district. Parking lots in Old Ellicott City begin to flood.
Aaaand the parking lots are starting to flood. Time to move my car.
4:23 p.m. Several feet of powerful floodwater — the likes of which haven’t been seen since the 2016 flood — rip through the district, sending residents into a panic and carrying anything in its way down toward the Patapsco River below.
“STAY AWAY,” Baltimore Sun Media Group reporter Libby Solomon tweets in all caps. “DO NOT DRIVE TO MAIN STREET.”
4:50 p.m. Peak rainfall begins, drenching Ellicott City with 3.8 inches of rainwater over the course of the next hour, according to the National Weather Service — the equivalent of more than three feet of snow.
Water rushes into basements and quickly begins flooding the first floors of Main Street’s shops and restaurants, trapping people in the upper floors. Outside, the street is submerged and waves of water are hammering the exterior walls of buildings, ripping out windows.
Flooding in Ellicott City rivaling the flooding incident in 2016 | Multiple rescues in progress | Swift Water Rescue teams assembling | Avoid downtown Ellicott City area to enable rescuers to gain access
5:15 p.m. A second storm begins hammering Ellicott City and continues for the next hour, dropping 2-3 more inches on the already flooded district, according to LaSorta, the weather service meteorologist.
The governor declined to comment. It’s rapidly getting dark. I was just noticed by a police officer as not being a member of the governor’s group (which did not include any media) and politely told to leave Main Street. Presser soon on higher ground, I’m told. Water receding. pic.twitter.com/TKP2qR8Ab6
“They say this is a once-every-1000-years flood, and we’ve had two of them in two years,” says Gov. @LarryHogan. Calls it “devastating,” says state is here to back up the county. State of emergency declared. pic.twitter.com/ZYclmwYBuS
The only known casualty of this year’s storm, his heroics drew praise from Kittleman, Hogan and Vice President Mike Pence, and others across the country.
BODY FOUND: Howard County Police have been notified that the body of an adult male has been found by searchers in the Patapsco River, just across the Baltimore County line. Police are awaiting identification and will update as information is confirmed. #ECFlood ###
Saddened to learn of the loss of Maryland’s Eddison Hermond—the brave National Guardsman & Air Force veteran who lost his life rendering assistance to a neighbor. Eddison lived a life of service to his nation. Our condolences & prayers to his family. God bless Eddison Hermond.