Flooding Disrupts DC as Capital Receives Month’s Rain in 1 Hour
A bench submerged by flood waters in DC's East Potomac Park Monday. JIM WATSON / AFP / Getty Images
The Washington, DC region received a month’s worth of rain in one hour Monday, leading to the most severe flooding in the area in recent years, The Washington Post reported.
The climate crisis has led to an uptick in extreme downpours, since warmer air can hold more moisture, according to the National Climate Assessment. Meteorologist Alex Lamers said that Monday’s downpour had a less than 1 percent chance of occurring in a given year.
Radar seemed to slightly underestimate the rainfall as well. Even if you’re generous with the placement of the sample point, #DCA measured ~21% more rain. If the same bias occurred elsewhere in the metro, some places (like Arlington) maybe had 4+ in/hr rain rates? pic.twitter.com/1gcZrEJZzK
— Alex Lamers (@AlexJLamers) July 8, 2019
In total, Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport recorded 3.3 inches of rainfall between 9 and 10 a.m. and 3.44 inches total, according to The Washington Post. That number broke DC’s total rainfall record for the date, which was previously set at 2.16 inches. Other areas that recorded high rainfall totals included North Potomac, Maryland with 5.55 inches, Gaithersburg, Maryland with 4.64 inches, Oakton, Virginia with 4.93 inches and Arlington, Virginia’s Westover neighborhood with 4.5 inches.
The deluge delayed flights and trains, including six Amtrak trains stopped “due to flooding/washout conditions,” Amtrak spokesperson Jason Abrams told CNN.
The flooding was also a danger for commuters, closing several roads in downtown DC and surrounding areas and prompting multiple water rescues, AccuWeather reported.
One commuter posted a video to Twitter after driving through a flooded Virginia Avenue Tunnel.
“You’re going to need a boat,” they warned other commuters.
You’re going to need a boat to pass underneath the Virginia Ave. underpass on I-66 in NW D.C. @WTOP pic.twitter.com/7mWDWgjeoE
— Steven D. Smith (@StevenDCSmith) July 8, 2019
Department of Transportation & Environmental Services Deputy Director in Alexandria, Virginia Jeff DuVal told CNN it could take a while for the flooding to go down and roads to reopen.
“Even though the rain has slowed down, the intersections and roads will remain flooded because the drains simply can’t handle the volume of rain that’s being sent their way,” DuVal told CNN. “There is no way of knowing how long it will take for the flooding to subside.”
Underground transport was not spared, as social media users shared videos of water pouring into metro stations.
Got to see a waterfall today during my morning commute #VSquare pic.twitter.com/e3i0sCmxGo
— Hugo Dante (@HugoDanteJr) July 8, 2019
The flooding also reached the halls of power, causing leaks in the Pentagon and flooding in the White House basement.
CNN Pentagon correspondent Barbara Starr photographed water entering the second floor of the Pentagon from both rain dripping down from the fifth floor and the Potomac River seeping in from below.
The Pentagon "leaks" …this is second floor entrance this morning. Keep in mind the second floor, leaking from rain coming in from the fifth floor ceiling and somehow also bubbling up from Potomac River below. Keeping good thoughts for colleagues and neighbors w/water damage. pic.twitter.com/1gxdfqVkHn
— Barbara Starr (@barbarastarrcnn) July 8, 2019
“It’s official: The White House basement is flooding,” CNBC correspondent Eamon Javers tweeted.
It’s official: The White House basement is flooding. pic.twitter.com/f1DR6awE89
— Eamon Javers (@EamonJavers) July 8, 2019