NORTHUMBERLAND COUNTY, Va. — The National Weather Service is warning that the mid-Atlantic region could see one of the biggest tidal floods of the last decade or two as heavy rain and winds pummeled the region Friday.
Major coastal flooding along the Northern Neck and Middle Peninsula around high tide will continue through Saturday.
A coastal flood warning remains in effect until noon Saturday for Mathews, Middlesex, Northumberland, Westmoreland and Lancaster Counties where two to three feet of water is possible for low-lying areas near shorelines and tidal waterways.
"Moderate to severe flooding will cause extensive inundation and flooding of numerous roads and buildings resulting in a significant threat to property and life," weather service officials said. "Water will be 2 to 3 feet or more above ground level in some areas. Severe flooding will extend inland from the waterfront and shoreline flooding homes, businesses and isolating some neighborhoods. Numerous roads will be impassable under several feet of water and cars submerged. Some areas will need to be evacuated."
State of emergency declared in Maryland
Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan declared a state of emergency Friday for areas of Maryland along the shores of the bay, the Potomac River and the Atlantic Coast currently under a coastal flood warning.
The weather service says some areas could get the worst tidal flooding they’ve seen since Hurricane Isabel in 2003 on Friday and Saturday as strong and persistent winds push water into the Chesapeake Bay.
“Even if you are accustomed to nuisance flooding, this is much more serious and has the potential to be much more damaging over the course of the next 24 hours,” Hogan said early Friday evening. “We are taking this action to bring all necessary state resources to bear, and assist local jurisdictions in their response efforts."
The state of emergency declaration includes Baltimore City and the following counties: Anne Arundel, Baltimore, Calvert, Caroline, Cecil, Charles, Dorchester, Harford, Kent, Queen Anne’s, Prince George’s, Somerset, St. Mary’s, Talbot, Wicomico, and Worcester.
The governor urged Maryland residents and visitors to monitor weather forecasts and remain on alert as heavy rains, moderate to major flooding, and hazardous winds affect portions of the state Friday through Sunday.
On Friday morning, water flooded streets near City Dock in downtown Annapolis and several public school systems in the state were closed Friday.
“The rain is coming in a lot right now," said Leslie Butler, who had come to Annapolis for the day with her children and paused near City Dock during their visit. "It’s crazy high flood waters. I’ve never seen this before.”
The City of Annapolis Office of Emergency Management warned people to prepare for the possibility of extended road closures through the weekend. In Baltimore, officials offered residents sandbags and warned them move vehicles from low-lying areas.
The flooding could affect all tidal shores in Maryland, Washington, D.C., and northern Virginia, the weather service said. Water levels were already elevated Thursday evening, but high tides are expected to be the highest from Friday until high tide Saturday morning.