太子探花

Heavy winds, rain batter DC area: 80 mph wind gusts clocked at Bay Bridge prompting 4-hour shutdown

Heavy wind and drenching rain hammered the D.C. region Tuesday, shutting down both sides of Maryland’s Chesapeake Bay Bridge for four hours, inundating roadways and knocking out power to thousands. Here’s what you need to know.

Wind gusts as high as 80 mph were clocked at the Chesapeake Bay Bridge, with sustained winds reaching 65 mph. Gusts approaching 50 mph were reported all along the I-95 corridor, and Reagan National Airport measured a wind gust at 48 mph, according to WTOP Meteorologist Mike Stinneford. A high wind warning for nearly all of the D.C. region is in effect until early Wednesday.

Wind gusts and flooding from the storm system had a major impact on the afternoon commute, with and the due to high winds. Other area roads flooded, power was knocked out for thousands of homes and businesses, and several school systems canceled afternoon activities or dismissed students early.

Around parts of the D.C. region, between 2-3 inches of rain fell Tuesday, according to the . A flood warning is in effect until Wednesday morning in parts of the region.

“I was just trying to think of the last time we saw a storm like this that was not a blizzard. Maybe something in 2009, 2010, when we had all that snow. But a warm, rainy, windy event like this 鈥 very unusual for January,” Stinneford said.

Annapolis flooded
Coastal flooding crested at the third highest level on record in Annapolis, Maryland, early Wednesday. (WTOP/Dave Dildine)
Beaverdam Creek flooding
Beaverdam Creek oozes over Route 50 near Cheverly, Maryland. At least one car stalled in the high water. (WTOP/Dave Dildine)
Annapolis City Dock flooded
The Severn River inundates Annapolis City Dock businesses in one of the largest coastal floods on record. (WTOP/Dave Dildine)
Two lanes of Rhode Island Avenue, NE, were closed after a large tree branch came down on a tractor-trailer. (Courtesy D.C. Fire and EMS)
Two lanes of Rhode Island Avenue, NE, were closed after a large tree branch came down on a tractor-trailer. (Courtesy D.C. Fire and EMS)
A tow truck drives through high water in Old Town Alexandria during Tuesday’s storm. (WTOP/Scott Gelman)
A flooded street near Wales Alley in Old Town Alexandria. (WTOP/Scott Gelman)
Maryland Department of Natural Resources officials are asking the public to use the My Coast: Maryland app to post photos of flooding, saying it can help compile data and produce possible solutions to the effects of climate change. (Courtesy Md. Dept. of Natural Resources/My Coast Maryland)
Maryland Department of Natural Resources officials are asking the public to use the My Coast: Maryland app to post photos of flooding, saying it can help compile data and produce possible solutions to the effects of climate change. (Courtesy Md. Dept. of Natural Resources/My Coast Maryland)
Maryland Department of Natural Resources officials are asking the public to use the My Coast: Maryland app to post photos of flooding, saying it can help compile data and produce possible solutions to the effects of climate change. (Courtesy Md. Dept. of Natural Resources/My Coast Maryland)
Chesapeake Bay Bridge
High winds and drenching rain close Maryland’s Chesapeake Bay Bridge to traffic on Tuesday, Jan. 9, 2024. (Courtesy MDOT)
alexandria flood pep
Businesses in Alexandria, Virginia, prep for flooding Jan. 9, 2024. (WTOP/Linh Bui)
alexandria flood prep
The owner of “The Lucky Knot” a boutique in Alexandria was among those battering up ahead of heavy rain and high winds. (WTOP/Linh Bui)
alexandria flood
Much of the D.C. region is under a wind warning and areas north and west of the District are under a wind advisory. (WTOP/Linh Bui)
(1/14)
Annapolis flooded
Beaverdam Creek flooding
Annapolis City Dock flooded
Chesapeake Bay Bridge
alexandria flood pep
alexandria flood prep
alexandria flood

The high winds and rain came at a time when the ground was already soggy, increasing the risk for downed trees and power lines, according to Stinneford.

impacted parts of far western Maryland including Allegany and Garrett counties earlier in the day.

The rain is expected to fade overnight and into Wednesday morning but “winds will continue to howl,” according to 7太子探花 First Alert Meteorologist Brian van de Graaff.



Travel impacts

The heaviest rain fell during the afternoon rush hour.

Slick roads made for a messy drive home Tuesday. Several , Virginia, including Lawyers Road near Vienna and Henderson Road near Burke Lake, according to the Fairfax County Police Department.

In Takoma Park, Maryland, Sligo Creek Parkway was shut down between Flower Avenue and Piney Branch Road, Maryland-National Capital Park Police announced on social media.

Wind gusts at the Chesapeake Bay Bridge reached 80 mph, which prompted the Maryland Transportation Authority to stop traffic on the bridge, .

“Bay Bridge closures are somewhat rare, only occurring about once a year or so, and are usually in effect for a couple of hours during the strongest winds. The last time all movement on Route 50 was held on the Eastern and Western shore was last April 1. It didn’t happen at all in 2022, according to the MDTA. It was closed for a few hours on the morning of Aug. 4, 2020, during Tropical Storm Isaias,” according to WTOP Traffic鈥檚 Dave Dildine.

The bridge closed around 4:45 p.m. and began reopening around 8:45 p.m.

“This is one of the longest weather-related Bay Bridge Closures I can recall in a while,” Dildine said.

Wind gusts far exceeded the threshold for closing the bridge, according to MDTA spokesman Tamory Winfield.

“For a bridge traffic hold to take place, you’re looking at sustained winds exceeding 55 mph, continuous for a period of time of 10 minutes or more, or wind gusts that persistently exceed 55 mph, over a period of 15 minutes,” Winfield said.

The bridge was shut down for more than 18 hours in 2012 during Superstorm Sandy. Hurricane Isabel led to a nearly 17-hour closure in 2003.

The was also shut down, according to MDTA. The bridge about 30 minutes after it was closed.

Dildine also reported from the WTOP Traffic Center that a tree came down on the George Washington Parkway near Route 123, causing disruptions.

By Tuesday evening, highway crews were responding to several downed trees on the Baltimore-Washington Parkway near Route 100, Route 198 and Route 410. The eastbound lanes of Interstate 70 were blocked by a fallen tree near Route 29 in Ellicott City, Maryland, according to Dildine.

Two lanes of Rhode Island Avenue at Monroe Street in Northeast, D.C. were closed when a large branch came down on a tractor-trailer in the roadway, according to D.C. Fire and EMS.

In Maryland, Beach Drive was shut down from the D.C. line to East West Highway and from Kensington Parkway to Knowles Avenue, Maryland-National Capital Park Police said.

Power Outages

Thousands of homes and businesses across the D.C. region lost power Tuesday.

Energy utility BGE said to stay away from downed lines, even if they don鈥檛 appear to be live. Customers can report outages online, or over the phone by texting 69243鈥痮r calling 877-778-2222.

The map below contains current power outages in Virginia, Maryland and D.C. This map is updated every 10 minutes.

Closures

School districts across the WTOP listening area closed early or closed entirely Tuesday, and Tuesday night, a handful of school systems had already announced changes for Wednesday.

Virginia

The following school districts in Northern Virginia announced they’ll operate on a two-hour delay Wednesday morning:

  • Culpeper County Public Schools
  • Fauquier County Public Schools
  • Fredericksburg City Public Schools
  • Spotsylvania County Public Schools
  • Stafford County Public Schools

Maryland

The following school districts in Maryland announced they’ll operate on a two-hour delay Wednesday morning:

  • Anne Arundel County Public Schools
  • Howard County Public Schools

Forecast

WEDNESDAY: WIND ALERT
Partly to mostly cloudy
Highs:听45-50
Winds: West Southwest 15-25 mph, Gusts to 40 mph

WEDNESDAY NIGHT:
Mainly clear
Lows:听25-35
Winds: Light

THURSDAY:
Mostly sunny
Highs:听Low 50s
Winds: Southwest 5-10 mph

FRIDAY:
Increasing clouds, rain develops late afternoon/evening
Highs:听Upper 40s
Winds: Southeast 5-10 mph

Current conditions

WTOP’s Dave Dildine contributed to this report.听

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Thomas Robertson

Thomas Robertson is an Associate Producer and Web Writer/Editor at WTOP. After graduating in 2019 from James Madison University, Thomas moved away from Virginia for the first time in his life to cover the local government beat for a small daily newspaper in Zanesville, Ohio.

Jessica Kronzer

Jessica Kronzer graduated from James Madison University in May 2021 after studying media and politics. She enjoys covering politics, advocacy and compelling human-interest stories.

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