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High tides cause flooding in the mid-Atlantic region

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High tides cause flooding in the mid-Atlantic region

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Coastal communities in the central Atlantic states remained subject to flood warnings or advisories on Saturday as they examined damage from the large, slow storm that sprayed areas of the region and caused some of the flooding. strongest tidal waves in the past two decades, according to meteorologists.

The storm and flooding affected towns and villages along the northern Virginia coast to the Chesapeake and Delaware Bay areas, to the New Jersey coast. Waters surged through the cities of Annapolis, Maryland, and Alexandria, Virginia, and the waterways surrounding the cities of Washington, DC and Philadelphia swelled.

Along the western shore of Chesapeake Bay, homes and businesses were inundated and coastal roads were submerged, turning some coastal areas into islands. But the surges were not as damaging as some forecasters had feared. In Baltimore, the Inner Harbor was underwater on Friday night, but on Saturday, locals were back walking their dogs and sitting on benches.

“We were very close to having bigger problems,” said James Wallace, director of the City of Baltimore’s emergency management office, adding that the effects of the flooding were less severe than expected thanks to the wind speed. which weakens around high tide.

Widespread precipitation brought one to two inches of precipitation across much of the Mid-Atlantic, with up to four inches in isolated areas along the I-95 Corridor.

Flooding could continue from Sunday to Monday morning in some areas, said Kevin Witt, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service. As of Saturday afternoon, no fatalities related to the storm were reported.

In downtown Annapolis, residents waded in a few feet of water on Saturday morning. The water had receded overnight, from a peak of just under five feet, according to David Mandell, deputy director of the Office of Emergency Management.

Maryland’s capital, which sits on Chesapeake Bay, regularly experiences tidal flooding, which has prompted the city to develop a pumping system to prevent flooding at high tide. But it didn’t live up to Friday night’s push.

“We’re used to flooding, and it’s kind of a flood beyond that,” Mandell said.

Around midnight on Friday, Mayor Gavin Buckley of Annapolis paddled downtown Dock Street in a kayak, inspecting damage to restaurants and shops. Flood waters had overflowed with sandbags at the gates of many businesses, causing “significant” damage that Buckley said would have an economic impact.

“We are barely recovering from Covid, so a lot of these companies are just getting back on their feet,” Mr Buckley said.

The shock wave fell well short of Hurricane Isabel, which set a record in 2003, which inundated the city with more than seven feet of storm surge. But it is the highest level of flooding the city has seen that was not due to a hurricane, Mr Mandell said.

The severity of the storm was caused by a confluence of high tides, wind and rain. “The magnitude of all of these factors made this a little unusual,” said Mr. Witt. Coastal flooding records have been broken along the shores of the Potomac River and Chesapeake Bay in the Solomon Islands and Straits Point in Maryland, and Dahlgren, Virginia.

High tides have also brought water levels along the Delaware River and upper Delaware Bay to approach some of their highest points on record. High winds along parts of the Atlantic coast peaked at around 60 miles per hour, according to Alex Staarmann, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service, knocking down trees and power lines. In New Jersey, about 4,000 homes went without power on Saturday.

The storm came just days after a Nor’easter hit the New England coast with hurricane-force winds, cutting power to hundreds of thousands of homes. Thousands of people went without power in Massachusetts on Saturday.

Mr Witt said the storm was part of a pattern of stronger storms affecting larger areas caused by climate change.

From 2000 to 2015, the incidence of high tide flooding in the central Atlantic doubled from three days to an average of six days per year, according to a 2018 report from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

“We are on the front line of climate change”, Mr. Mandell said of Annapolis. “We see him regularly. “

JoAnna Daemmrich has contributed reporting for Annapolis and Maria Morales from Baltimore.

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