Danielle delivers heavy soaking But rain, winds do little damage

September 26, 1992|By Michael James and William Thompson | Michael James and William Thompson,Staff Writers

OCEAN CITY -- Tropical storm Danielle whipped through Maryland yesterday, bringing with it a raging surf, heavy rain and gale-force winds that leveled a small portion of this city's beachfront and flooded some Eastern Shore roadways.

But outside of downed tree limbs and power lines and a small voluntary evacuation in St. Mary's County, the storm's force didn't overwhelm Maryland.

"Maryland was very lucky; if it had taken a more northerly course, it probably would have caused severe flooding on the Chesapeake Bay," said Len Sipes, acting spokesman for the Maryland Emergency Management Agency.

Mr. Sipes said storm winds were measured as high as 65 mph. Winds of 74 mph or more are considered hurricane velocity, he said.

Worcester and Somerset counties reported downed tree limbs and power lines.

As of 8 p.m., the storm had left Maryland and entered the southwest corner of Delaware, according to the National Weather Service. About 2 to 3 inches of rain fell in the Baltimore area and 3 to 5 inches fell along the Eastern Shore, the service said.

In the next three hours, officials said they were expecting some "backlash" of winds from the Northeast, as well as rain showers.

The rain forced the postponement of the game between the Baltimore Orioles and the Boston Red Sox at Camden Yards as well as numerous high school football games.

No evacuations were ordered in Maryland. But one voluntary evacuation was reported, as 20 residents of St. George Island left their homes as a precautionary measure, officials said. About 9 inches of rain covered a local roadway leading to the island. Most of those residents had returned to their homes by 8:30 p.m.

Flooding closed the road into Assateague Island, officials said.

The main threat to Ocean City was beach erosion. About 120 linear feet of beach eroded between 122nd and 125th streets, officials said.

Last night's activities for the annual Sunfest crafts and food festival were canceled as of 4 p.m., but the event was expected to resume on time today.

Danielle was due to sweep past the Delmarva Peninsula late last night.

By mid-afternoon here, wind speeds reached more than 40 mph and seas were as high as 12 feet, the U.S. Coast Guard Station reported.

The tropical storm warning, in effect all day, included predictions of gale conditions and tides up to 2 feet higher than normal.

Minor flooding was reported along the Delmarva Peninsula and officials in Sussex County, Del., imposed a voluntary evacuation notice. Del. Gov. Michael N. Castle also declared a limited state of emergency for low-lying areas of Kent and Sussex counties, a condition that enabled the state to use the National Guard's four-wheel-drive vehicles to assist in voluntary evacuations.

Authorities were asking residents of low-lying areas in Kent and Sussex counties to evacuate, and two shelters had been opened at high schools, said Mike Mahaffie, spokesman for the Delaware Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control. Several roads were closed because of flooding, including Route 54, and some Bethany Beach residents reported water under their homes. The weather service reported considerable beach erosion in Rehoboth Beach.

Ocean City officials, however, decided not to propose such dramatic measures. Throughout the day, they said they were determined to stay vigilant but optimistic that the storm would pass and leave vacationers with a pleasant weekend.

The biggest concern yesterday was heavy rainfall posing the possibility of electrical wiring dangers, but those concerns were never realized.

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