Parkway closed by torrential rain

November 29, 1993|By Jay Apperson | Jay Apperson,Staff Writer

The southbound Baltimore-Washington Parkway in Anne Arundel County was closed for 12 hours yesterday as road crews repaired damage left by a storm that inundated Maryland with close to 7 inches of rain in some areas.

The southbound lanes were closed about 6 a.m. between routes 175 and 198 -- an area that has been undergoing repairs -- to allow crews to contend with large potholes and other effects of high water on the road, said Liz Kalinowski, spokeswoman for the State Highway Administration.

It was among the last roads to reopen of the dozens closed in the wake of the storm, which at its peak dumped more than 2 inches of rain in an hour on parts of Maryland.

The heavy rain also flooded basements, bringing calls for firefighters to pump out more than 75 homes in Baltimore County alone.

The storm disrupted electrical power to about 3,400 homes in the metropolitan area -- some 2,200 of them in Carroll County. Most of the outages were caused by high winds downing tree limbs and power lines, the Baltimore Gas and Electric Co. said.

The heaviest rainfall was reported north and west of Baltimore City. The National Weather Service measured 2.39 inches at its Baltimore-Washington International Airport monitoring station -- "fairly representative" of the area, a forecaster said.

But Cockeysville was fairly bathed by 6.89 inches, and Columbia by 6.36 inches -- extraordinary amounts for a single storm and the heaviest reported in the metropolitan area.

Forecaster Bob Melrose said 2.08 inches fell within an hour in Norrisville in Harford County, and 7.84 inches was reported from the storm in Sabillasville in the Catoctin Mountains of Frederick County.

Area police agencies reported no injuries from the storm -- although several cars got stuck in rising water.

Around 8 a.m. yesterday, a car submerged in water was spotted at Green and Horse Hill roads in the Baldwin section of northern Baltimore County. The Fire Department -- along with scuba divers -- responded. But they found the car unoccupied and its owner, who apparently had walked off after the car became stuck in water, was safe at home.

Cpl. Edward Pfister, of the Baltimore County police, said officers checking a report of a car caught in nearly a foot of fast-running water in Owings Mills found the occupants also had escaped safely.

Among the many roads temporarily closed yesterday in Baltimore County was River Road, which runs along the Patapsco River, Corporal Pfister said. Others affected in the county included Reisterstown Road, north of Greenspring Valley Road, Stevenson Road between Hillside and Greenspring Valley roads, and stretches of Beckleysville Road and Bellona Avenue.

Baltimore City police reported flooding along the Fells Point waterfront, in the 2800 block of Falls Road and at the intersection of Cold Spring Lane and Greenspring Avenue, but no roads were closed, officials said.

In Howard County, 26 roads were closed, police reported.

Mr. Melrose, at the weather service's BWI office, said the heavy rains resulted from a collision between a strong cold front stretching from Pennsylvania to North Carolina arriving from the west and a low pressure zone tracking up the Atlantic coast from Florida.

"The low arrived over Virginia and Maryland just after midnight," Mr. Melrose said. "The southeasterly winds from the low were bringing in all the moist warm air off the ocean that in contact with colder air coming in from the cold front produced the storms."

A tornado watch -- a rarity for November -- was in effect from 12:40 a.m. until dawn in Central Maryland and along the Eastern Shore. Forecasters said no tornado was sighted.

Richard Diener, another National Weather Service forecaster, said winds were mostly 15 to 25 mph during the storm, with gusts to 45 mph.

Mr. Diener said most area state police barracks, which routinely monitor weather conditions, reported 2 to 4 inches of rain.

But he said the storm could have dumped up to 8 inches of rain in some pockets.

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