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Flood Watch Issued For Northern Virginia, DC March 21

Patch logo Patch 3/21/2019 Deb Belt
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WASHINGTON, DC — Up to 3 inches of rain could fall Thursday, according to the National Weather Service, which has issued a flood watch for Washington, D.C., and parts of northern Virginia and Maryland. The rain is expected to continue throughout the day, with the potential for runoff and flooding continuing into the evening.

The flood watch is in effect from 10 a.m. on Thursday, March 21, until midnight.

A widespread soaking rain of 1 to 2 inches is expected, with about 3 inches possible in isolated areas around the watch area, weather officials said. Small streams and creeks may overflow their banks, and low-lying areas may flood, according to the watch.

Rain will be steadiest from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Thursday, weather officials reported.

It applies to the following areas in northern Virginia and DC: Arlington, Falls Church, Alexandria, Loudoun, Fairfax, Prince William, Manassas, Manassas Park, Dale City, Woodbridge, Lake Ridge, Montclair, Reston, Herndon, Annandale, Centreville, Chantilly, McLean, Franconia, Purcellville, Leesburg, Ashburn, and Sterling.

Stormy weather will continue into Friday with strong northwest winds that may gust around 50 mph, causing the possibility of isolated wind damage Friday afternoon through Saturday morning. A wind advisory may be required, the Weather Service said.

A Gale Warning is in effect for the waters Friday through Friday evening, and it may need to be extended into Saturday morning.

Driving in heavy rain is a potentially serious hazard every spring, says AAA Mid-Atlantic. Here are tips from AAA traffic safety experts.

  • Go slow. While hydroplaning can occur at low speeds, the risk of hydroplaning grows at higher speeds.
  • Follow the leader. Hydroplaning occurs when tires can’t displace enough water from their treads. By operating behind another vehicle – at an extra safe distance, of course – you avoid water already displaced by the vehicle in front of it.
  • Inflate your tires to the manufacturer’s recommendations. Underinflated tires don’t have the same capacity for displacing water as tires that are properly inflated, making driving in the rain potentially more dangerous.
  • Check your tire treads. Tires with less than 4/32 inches of tread should be replaced. You can check by inserting a quarter into a tread with Washington’s head facing down. If you can’t see the top of his head, the tire has at least 4/32 inches of tread.
  • Leave extra room. A loss of traction can make it tougher to stop quickly. If you typically leave three seconds of space between you and the vehicle in front of you, Gray recommends adding one second for rain and two seconds for rain and darkness.
  • Stay in the middle. If you’re on the highway, try to stay in the center lane. Many roadways have a crown that sends water to the right and left lanes.
  • Avoid cruise control. If you have to slow down in wet weather, you’ll do so by taking your foot off the accelerator. But if cruise control is engaged, your foot is already off the accelerator. You want as much control as possible when driving in wet weather. Don’t give any away to cruise control.
  • Stay calm. Your first reaction to hydroplaning might be to brake, but don’t do it. It won’t stop you. Instead, ease off the accelerator to decrease speed. Once your vehicle regains traction, look and steer in the direction you want to go.
  • Keep it clean. Maintaining visibility is an important part of safely driving in the rain, and it starts with keeping your windshield and windows clean. You’ll want to clean the insides of both once a week or, if you’re a smoker, multiple times a week.
  • Check your blades. The average windshield wiper blade lasts about six months to a year. You can tell if a blade is starting to go if it leaves streaks behind.
  • Use the defroster. Moisture inside a vehicle can create a fog on the windows. Expert, certified auto technicians at AAA Car Care Centers across the metro area recommend using defrosters with the air conditioning on and the vents open for fresh air. Air conditioning, by design, dries the air.
  • Turn on your lights. Your headlights are valuable equipment for battling low visibility when driving in the rain. You’ll want to turn them on even if you’re just passing through a light sun shower. It will help you see better, and a lot of states require drivers to turn on their headlights when using windshield wipers. Low beams are more effective during rain and fog.
  • Stop and wait. If it’s raining so hard that none of these steps alleviate visibility issues, it’s wise to find a safe place to pull over and wait until the weather lets up.

Here's the latest forecast from the National Weather Service:

Thursday: Rain. The rain could be heavy at times. High near 52. Light northeast wind becoming east 5 to 9 mph in the afternoon. Chance of precipitation is 100%. New precipitation amounts between 1 and 2 inches possible.

Thursday Night: Rain before 11pm, then a chance of showers, mainly between 11pm and 2am. Low around 42. Northwest wind 8 to 16 mph, with gusts as high as 22 mph. Chance of precipitation is 80%. New precipitation amounts between a quarter and half of an inch possible.

Friday: Scattered showers after noon. Partly sunny, with a high near 55. West wind 16 to 18 mph, with gusts as high as 34 mph. Chance of precipitation is 40%.

Friday Night: Partly cloudy, with a low around 34. Breezy, with a northwest wind 17 to 22 mph, with gusts as high as 43 mph.

Saturday: Sunny, with a high near 51. Northwest wind 15 to 17 mph, with gusts as high as 31 mph.

Saturday Night: Clear, with a low around 35.

Sunday: Sunny, with a high near 60.

Sunday Night: Mostly cloudy, with a low around 46.

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