Baltimore and its suburbs seemed likely to escape the worst of the rains today as the remnants of Hurricane Jeanne pushed north and east toward an exit off the Atlantic Coast somewhere near Virginia Beach, Va.
But forecasters warned of heavy rains across Southern Maryland and the Lower Eastern Shore, with a chance of minor flooding, severe thunderstorms and an isolated tornado.
"Jeanne is forecast to go just south of Norfolk, and we're expecting the heaviest rain to be just north of that center," said Luis Rosa, a meteorologist at the National Weather Service's Sterling, Va. forecast office.
That could mean 2 to 4 inches of rain and 20-mph winds for Southern Maryland, the Virginia Tidewater and the Lower Eastern Shore. But the heavily populated Baltimore-Washington corridor should dodge that bullet.
"Baltimore is going to be too far north of that center to receive significant amounts that would cause flooding," Rosa said. "It doesn't look anything like we had with Frances or Ivan earlier this month."
Sterling forecasters were predicting no more than 1 to 2 inches of rain today in the Baltimore-Washington corridor, with 10-mph winds, gusting as high as 29 mph. It should all be over by this evening.
And the area can use the rain. Precipitation at Baltimore-Washington International Airport has been about 2 inches below normal since Aug. 1, with no rain at all for more than a week.
Jeanne's clouds spread over Maryland yesterday, but the storm's center was located over northern Georgia, where it was downgraded to a tropical depression.
It was moving north at about 14 mph, but forecasters said it was blocked by high pressure to the north. Falling into the grip of westerly winds, they said, Jeanne would soon begin a turn toward the east, speed up and head toward the Atlantic.
No flood watches were posted yesterday in Maryland. But watches were in effect for counties on Virginia's Eastern Shore, in the Tidewater and the rest of southern Virginia.
Localized flooding of streets and low-lying areas was possible in that region, with some river flooding possible where thunderstorms push rainfall amounts higher.