More rains may pound soggy Central Maryland 'Train effect' storms linger, die, redevelop

June 19, 1996|By Frank Roylance and John Rivera | Frank Roylance and John Rivera,SUN STAFF Sun staff writers Kris Antonelli, Peter Hermann and Kaana Smith contributed to this article.

A series of slow-moving "train effect" thunderstorms that dump up to 2 inches of rain per hour have pounded Central Maryland this week, saturating the ground and flooding streets and basements.

The volatile conditions producing those storms -- a weak cool front to the north colliding with warm, moist air from the Gulf of Mexico -- will be here the rest of the week, meaning a repeat of the torrential downpours, rain and lightning could be in the offing.

"We expect more widespread showers and thunderstorms over the next several days, and we may have a tropical storm on the horizon," said Barry Goldsmith, a National Weather Service meteorologist in Sterling, Va.

The first tropical depression of the Atlantic hurricane season was moving over ocean waters off South Carolina yesterday. It was expected to become Tropical Storm Arthur overnight and bring 5 to 10 inches of rain to portions of North Carolina and Virginia today and tomorrow.

Last night, rain again fell on Central Maryland but apparently caused none of the flash flooding seen Monday night. The rain did halt the game between the Orioles and the Texas Rangers for about two hours.

The thunderstorms that have hit Maryland this week have been troublesome because they have dawdled. Normally, thunderstorms move swiftly through the area, said Jose Marrero, a weather service forecaster at Baltimore-Washington International Airport. But "these guys are slow-movers, and reproduce to the west. It's a train effect; they die out and redevelop."

The result is hours of thunder, lightning and torrential rains over the same area. And "that's where the serious problems develop," he said.

The prospect of additional precipitation is not a happy one for residents in Hamilton, Canton, Cherry Hill and Fells Point, which were hardest hit by flooding Monday night. Streams and storm drains in the hard-hit areas overflowed, flooding streets and basements and stranding motorists. City firefighters responded to 500 weather-related calls for help. They made 15 water rescues, most of them people stranded in their cars by high water. No injuries were reported.

An exhausted and disconsolate David and Yvonne Kordonski sat on the stoop outside their rowhouse in the 2600 block of Hudson St. in Canton. He held his head in hands and she propped her chin on her fist. Beside them, a water hose extended out of their basement window, but nothing was trickling out.

They estimate they lost about $1,500 in camera equipment, along with power tools, a king-size bed and rugs in the basement. They had no gas or water, and Yvonne Kordonski spent a sleepless night and the entire next day calling the Fire Department and Department of Public Works to rid her basement of more than 4 feet of water.

"This is ridiculous," she said.

About 4 feet of water was in the cellar of Weber's on Boston restaurant, where employees spent yesterday morning cleaning out cases of wine, beer, food, and paper goods, much of it damaged beyond use.

Baltimore County police said standing water covering railroad tracks contributed to the derailment about 4: 15 a.m. yesterday of a CSX freight train near Gwynnbrook Avenue in Reisterstown. Of the 44-car train, which was carrying stone, 24 cars went off the tracks, police said. No one was hurt.

So far, this week's rains have been triggered by the interaction of a weak cool front just north of the region, and warm air just to its south that is heavy with moisture from the Gulf of Mexico and the Atlantic Ocean.

The front is linked to a low-pressure system over the Midwest that has been responsible for more severe rains and flooding in that region.

Pub Date: 6/19/96

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