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Posted at 11:20 AM ET, 09/ 6/2008

Hanna Pouring Very Heavy Rain over Region

By Jason Samenow

*Tropical Storm Warning near and east of I-95.*
*Wind Advisory for north and west suburbs until 11 p.m.*
*Flash Flood Watch for metro area through this evening*
*Flash Flood Warning for Fairfax, Prince William and Stafford Counties*

Hanna Live Updates Blog (up to the minute) | Track Hanna | Satellite image | Dominion Power Outages | Pepco Power Outages | Rainfall reports from NWS

11:20 update: Flash flood warning issued for Virginia counties along I-95 (including Fairfax, Prince William and Stafford). Torrential rain occurring in these areas, and doppler radar estimates 4" of rain have already fallen in eastern Prince William county. Do NOT drive across a flooded roadway. Turn around, don't drown.

11:00 update: Very heavy rain continues over the region and will persist through at least the mid to late afternoon. Rainfall totals in the immediate metro area are approaching or already over 1" according to the WeatherBug network. The northern, western and eastern suburbs are getting slightly less with totals generally in 0.5-1" range. The heaviest rainfall totals so far are to the south and southwest, with 1.5-2" observed in Culpeper and Orange counties. Winds are generally in the 15-25 mph range, with gusts of 30-35 mph. About a 10 mph increase in speed is likely as center of the storm, now 65 miles west-southwest of Norfolk, Va. draws closer.

Storm totals should easily reach 2-4" across the metro area, with a few locations likely exceeding 5 and 6 inches.

See our earlier post for a storm timeline, rainfall potential map, wind assessment and frequently asked questions. Keep reading for earlier updates.

9:20 a.m. update: Torrential rain has moved into the metro region in the past hour. This heavy rain extends all the way south to near Raleigh, N.C. and will pivot to the north and northeast over the next six to 10 hours. Doppler estimated rainfall totals to the south and southwest of Charlottesville, Va. are already in the 4-6 inch range with flash flood warnings in effect. This weather to our south and southwest is very likely a preview of what we will experience later this morning and this afternoon. Our previous rainfall forecast of 2-4"+ may well be skewed in the "+" direction and cover some of the western suburbs.

The 8 a.m. advisory from the National Hurricane Center indicated Hanna's maximum winds were 50 mph and that those winds should hold as the storm heads to the northeast. As of 9:20 a.m., the center appeared to be in the vicinity of Raleigh. Winds remain strong east of the center, with areas of eastern North Carolina receiving 30-40 mph winds and a few gusts over 50 mph. Winds were gusting to 45 mph at Virginia Beach at 9 a.m. Our strongest winds should come through this afternoon.

By Jason Samenow  | September 6, 2008; 11:20 AM ET
Categories:  Floods, Tropical Weather  
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Next: Massive Deluge Across Metro Area


Where's the rain? Where's the wind? All I have in my backyard is boring old drizzle and a 5 mph breeze. Aaargh!

Posted by: Brian in Alex | September 6, 2008 9:29 AM | Report abuse

Just rainy day ----that is all. No big deal.

Posted by: Greg | September 6, 2008 9:35 AM | Report abuse

Hows the track of Hanna? Has it followed the predicted path or any hope that it tends to go more east? They said its moving 22 mph (that seems awfully fast). What contributes to the speed of a storm? Keep up the good work.

Posted by: Anonymous | September 6, 2008 9:37 AM | Report abuse

Guys-This could well be a serious flood event for some area and winds will increase, although the rain will be the story. The potential for 4-6" of rain in a short period of time is nothing to sneeze at.

Posted by: Jason, Capital Weather Gang | September 6, 2008 9:41 AM | Report abuse

Here in Arnold it is 74F with winds still fairly light, we have had a gust up to 18mph so far and .32" of rain. Right not we have a light rain. Things look to pick up this afternoon when the center draws closer to the area, it will definitely make things more interesting.

Posted by: arnoldkh | September 6, 2008 9:47 AM | Report abuse

Very heavy wind gusts and torrents of rain have arrived along the western shore of the Chesapeake in mid-Calvert County as of 0945. At the same time... the skies have actually BRIGHTENED through the cloud cover.

I have a 1950s-60s film clip of the weatherman on Baltimore's TV11 who would telephone his buddy at the Weather Bureau each night while on-camera to get up-to-the-second information. With the phone up to his ear, he would look into the camera and repeat what he "heard from his buddy". TV weather forecasting has come a long way in 50 years!

Posted by: Pleasant Living | September 6, 2008 9:52 AM | Report abuse

Steady moderate rain in Merrifield right now, with some light winds. My windows are so fogged over it is making the day seem even darker than it is.

Posted by: ~sg | September 6, 2008 9:54 AM | Report abuse

This is one reason to read this blog. Very cool post, Penguin 6!


I woke about six this morning and looked out the window over the Bay. It was RED. I mean really red. I thought 'red skies in morning, sailors take warning' but I never really knew that expression was true. Anyway, 0900 and just rain. Not heavy winds or seas on the Bay yet, but we're waiting for things to get worse.

Posted by: PenguinSix | September 6, 2008 9:00 AM

Posted by: flynnie | September 6, 2008 9:54 AM | Report abuse

will there be any effects after the storm passes, such as downed trees, many people without power or flooding

Posted by: sam | September 6, 2008 10:04 AM | Report abuse

Very heavy rain, winds beginning to pick up in Bowie. PAX river reported 24G35 at 10:00 AM.

Posted by: Steve Wasko | September 6, 2008 10:08 AM | Report abuse

WOW! Some incredible gusts right down down on the Potomac River near Mt Vernon. The rain is deluging and being driven almost completely side ways.

Posted by: Etta | September 6, 2008 10:09 AM | Report abuse


I just don't see much damage with this one. It's a rain maker, and moisture is what it will give us.

Posted by: Period | September 6, 2008 10:10 AM | Report abuse

Hey guys---help me figure out the basis for your thinking that rain totals may exceed 4" So far, the hardest rain here has fallen at a rate of .12"/hr., and my daily total is .55" Seems like the center of the storm already is just south of Richmond and the rain is rapidly moving north of here. What am I missing? thanks!

Posted by: steve takoma park md | September 6, 2008 10:12 AM | Report abuse

Steady rain for at least an hour now and winds beginning to pick up in Leesburg

Posted by: OregonNative | September 6, 2008 10:13 AM | Report abuse

Just had a heavy rain band move through here.... gusts from 30-40mph.

Posted by: alexandria | September 6, 2008 10:15 AM | Report abuse

rain pickin up in bethesda.

Posted by: sam | September 6, 2008 10:20 AM | Report abuse

Cool visual of where the storm currently is located.

Posted by: alexandria | September 6, 2008 10:21 AM | Report abuse

Steve, Tropical rainfall is a large scale weather system with embedded mesoscale features that create bands and pockets of heavy rain.(A simialr process happens in winter Nor'Easters) These bands rotate around the storm center developing and fizzling out again and again in different locations. These pockets can easily drop an inch of rain in a short amount of time. This leads to highly irregular rainfall patterns. While everyone sees rainfall over a large area, one location may see 5 or more inches while 10 miles away, they may only have recieved little more than an inch.

Posted by: Brian, Capital Weather Gang | September 6, 2008 10:21 AM | Report abuse

Steve in Takoma Park: I'm basing the 4-6" possibility on doppler estimated rainfall south of Charlottesville which is already in the that range. Our rain is basically coming from that direction.

Posted by: Jason, Capital Weather Gang | September 6, 2008 10:22 AM | Report abuse

Even if it looks like there's no heavy wind, be careful, as I think that, in the city, street-level relative calm is consistent with *very* strong gusts a story or two above the street.

The reason I think this is that, as Hurricane Isobel was approaching a few years ago, I was walking to my car in a light breeze at street level (annoyed because my conference stopped early before any real weather started) and saw a huge tree blow over onto the car right behind mine, crushing it and blocking a lane or two of traffic. That made an impression!

Posted by: Elizabeth | September 6, 2008 10:23 AM | Report abuse

It's pouring like crazy here in Lake Ridge. Looking at the radar - seems like we'd better get used to it today. Every few seconds we get another hundredth of an inch of rain. In one minute, the rainfall total went from 1.67" to 1.79" at Old Bridge Elementary School's weatherbug station. (And it wasn't a delayed reading - I watched it go up incrementally)

I'm going to go take a shower NOW, in case Mr. Reliable Power Grid decides that this is the one and only storm he wants to shut the electricity off for. We NEVER lose power during storms, NEVER!!! The only time we lose power here is if someone flips their car into a power pole, construction crews cut the lines, or if the grid gets overloaded during a heat wave. According to, there are only 1,812 outages in Northern Virginia right now.

Posted by: weatherdudeVA | September 6, 2008 10:25 AM | Report abuse

Some updates from my storm central, currently in NE DC. Lots of rain, heavy gusts, and trouble with the DirectTV receiver is seriously reducing my 90210 viewing time.

Parents are riding out the storm on the bay in Matthews County, Va. Lost power just after 8:30, however they are pretty protected from the wind by the trees and coves. River levels are already exceeding that of high tide, even though it is still some 5 hours away. Big, rolling waves have made it into rivers that are normally slick calm even in the most nasty thunderstorm. Medium sized limbs and branches are starting to become victims to Hanna's strength.

It seems the eye is supposed to pass near Williamsburg later this afternoon, i'll see if i can gather some reports from there as well.

Posted by: Jamie Jones, CapitalWeather Gang | September 6, 2008 10:32 AM | Report abuse

National gusted to 36 mph with 26 mph sustained last observation.

Posted by: Ian, Capital Weather Gang | September 6, 2008 10:32 AM | Report abuse

Thanks for the obs. The trees were doing the jig.... knew it had to be at least 30-40mph. I was rather impressed. Calmed down here since then.

Posted by: alexandria | September 6, 2008 10:35 AM | Report abuse reports 4,216 customers out of power as of 10:30am in N. Virginia

Posted by: OregonNative | September 6, 2008 10:36 AM | Report abuse

Lights 'flickering' here in our part of Arlington. Unlike WeatherdudeVA, we lose power at the drop of a hat. Gotta run and make more coffee.

Posted by: weatherwomanwannabe | September 6, 2008 10:37 AM | Report abuse

Getting the heavy rain but not a lot of wind. hot and steamy though.

Posted by: Sara in Oakton | September 6, 2008 10:41 AM | Report abuse

Things have definitely picked up here, just south of Alexandria, over the past half hour. Heavy wind-driven rain and occasional decent gusts.

CWG: With Nor'easters, we normally receive our strongest winds after the storm center has passed to the northeast of us. Is that expected to happen today?

Posted by: Brian in Alex | September 6, 2008 10:43 AM | Report abuse

Rainfall from this system is quite impressive in spots - two bands of very heavy rain rotating through just south and southwest of D.C. now. Radar estimates show about 1-2 inches of rain has fallen in these bands in the past hour. These bands are moving northwest through Fairfax and Prince William counties. Wouldn't be surprised to see some flash flood warnings issued soon.

Posted by: Andrew Freedman, Capital Weather Gang | September 6, 2008 10:45 AM | Report abuse

The south wall of our building is all glass and looks south over our complex here in Suitland, I just walked over there to check out what was going on. We have some courtyards here in the center of our building with picnic tables and what not, but the doors to them don't have locks due to them being enclosed. They're starting to get blown open by the gusts now. I almost got a facelift walking by one of them. Grabbed a garbage can and put it in front of it. Next time I go by it's probably going to be halfway across the building with papers strewn everywhere, but at least I tried.

Posted by: Brian, Capital Weather Gang | September 6, 2008 10:47 AM | Report abuse

I just got back from splashing my way over to the farmers market and bakery. Water in the street gutters was probably 3" deep, spilling out into the parking lanes at a quick clip and almost topping the curb.

Wind was also starting to make those of us standing under the farm stand tents a little nervous. Not to mention wet. The whole front of my body is soaked regardless of the umbrella.

The big ol' fat drops of rain felt really good though. Not such a bad day for splashing through puddles at all! So far, so good, Hanna!

Posted by: Laura in NWDC | September 6, 2008 10:52 AM | Report abuse

Jamie and all: Thanks for the reports of rising river waters south of us. What do we expect for surge in the tidal Potomac? I 'think' I've secured my boat to withstand 5-6 feet of surge at floating docks on Daingerfield Island, but I've never done this before and I don't think we'll get that much water...but still, I worry. Island was under 3 feet of water in Isabel.

And yes, I'm grateful that my biggest worry in this storm is my little pleasure boat!

Posted by: ~sg | September 6, 2008 10:53 AM | Report abuse

Just over 3/4" of rain at National so far, .37" last hour. Strongest winds seem to be embedded in heaviest radar echoes, as is fairly typical.

Posted by: Ian, Capital Weather Gang | September 6, 2008 10:58 AM | Report abuse

Winds have clearly picked up here in Arnold and the rain is coming down heavily. Sustained winds around 15mph and the sky is very dark.

Posted by: arnoldkh | September 6, 2008 10:59 AM | Report abuse

I just looked at my rain meter and the rain total here is pushing 3 inches.

Posted by: Yellow Boy in Burke, VA | September 6, 2008 10:59 AM | Report abuse

Arnoldkh, I just moved to Virginia from Oregon and I'm trying to get an idea of where these storm reports are coming from. Where is Arnold?

Posted by: OregonNative | September 6, 2008 11:03 AM | Report abuse

Strong rains and bearable winds at Hains Point during the 8 to 10 am period. Quite a few joggers, no fisherman, some birdwatchers right at the point looking for birds brought in from the ocean by Hanna (nothing yet). Two kayaks going up the river near the Lincoln Memorial.

At Kenilworth Park in Northeast at 7:30 am, a truck pulled up to a soccer field, making me wonder if the occupants had listened to the weather forecast.

Posted by: Storm-petrel | September 6, 2008 11:04 AM | Report abuse

Yellow Boy: Thanks for that rainfall report. Others with rain gauges-- let us know your totals!

Posted by: Jason, Capital Weather Gang | September 6, 2008 11:06 AM | Report abuse

Bands of heavy rain pushing through western Fairfax County. Highly variable winds; one moment almost dead calm and then a minutes later gusty winds blowing the rain sideways.

Extremely unofficial rain measurement here in Centreville is approaching 2 inches.

Don't go out driving in this unless you must. Trees will be blowing down as the ground saturates.

Posted by: Centreville VA | September 6, 2008 11:08 AM | Report abuse

i live down near fairfax, i have 46 inches of rain

Posted by: gideon | September 6, 2008 11:08 AM | Report abuse

sorry i meant 46 millimeters

Posted by: gideon | September 6, 2008 11:09 AM | Report abuse

Rain pounding down on the hill right now. DirectTV is done, visibility is low. Time to find brunch at Finn McCools...

Posted by: Jamie Jones, CapitalWeather Gang | September 6, 2008 11:13 AM | Report abuse

Just passed the 1 inch mark with heavy rain continuing here, just south of Rockville. Wind well under 20 mph. No notable gusts yet.

Posted by: Rob-Potomac | September 6, 2008 11:13 AM | Report abuse

Rain gauge total along the western shore of the Chesapeake in mid-Calvert County as of 1115 is 1.65". Experiencing continued brief high gusts, but a lull in the rainfall.

(For anyone who is confused by a previous post, 46 millimeters is the equivalent of 1.81 inches.)

Posted by: Pleasant Living | September 6, 2008 11:18 AM | Report abuse

Flash flooding now starting to develop near Alexandria.

Posted by: Brian in Alex | September 6, 2008 11:18 AM | Report abuse

OregonNative, Arnold is about 3 miles north of Annapolis, MD and about 2 miles west of the Bay Bridge. Speaking of which if anyone has been following the situation on the bridge the past few weeks they know how much trouble they are having with traffic flow due to emergency work that they are doing. Today they only have one lane going eastbound across the bridge and if winds get up to 55mph the bridge will be shut down. Can't imagine to many people are traveling today though.

Posted by: arnoldkh | September 6, 2008 11:19 AM | Report abuse

Storm-petrel, do you think Hanna will really bring in ocean birds? I'm tempted to head out there...although I'm not well-equipped. I guess it would be good to have a scope.

Please tell me you don't think Hanna will bring in many birds so I can make the wise choice and stay inside.

Posted by: Laura in NWDC | September 6, 2008 11:20 AM | Report abuse

Weather radio and Emergency Alert System went off..

Flash Flood warning for just about everyone in Northern Virginia

Posted by: weatherdudeVA | September 6, 2008 11:21 AM | Report abuse

LaPlata has received over 3" so far which is the highest total I have seen yet. So far here in Arnold we have received 1.18" with a gust to 27mph.

Posted by: arnoldkh | September 6, 2008 11:24 AM | Report abuse

Will we be seeing an eye at some point?

Posted by: Jed in Bethesda | September 6, 2008 11:25 AM | Report abuse

I'm in DC. Where are the high winds?

Posted by: Karl | September 6, 2008 11:27 AM | Report abuse

It's much too early to make a call, but don't be totally surprised if New Orleans evacuation for Gustav proves to have been only a dress rehearsal for IKE

Posted by: Steve Tracton | September 6, 2008 11:31 AM | Report abuse

3" in the gauge so far....

Posted by: David A. in Stafford | September 6, 2008 11:32 AM | Report abuse

2" of rain in the gauge in Mt Vernon. 1 1/2" of that in the last two hours. Very heavy rain half an hour ago, now tapering off a little bit. Wave action here on the Potomac is minimal, and where the hydrilla goes out into the river, for 300-400 yards, it is flat calm.

Posted by: Etta | September 6, 2008 11:34 AM | Report abuse

Jed: No eye with this storm, and even if there were, the center is passing to our south and east

Karl: I noted in an earlier post that rain not wind will be the main story with this storm. Having said that, sustained winds of 15-25 with gusts to 35 have been observed and they may go a little higher this afternoon.

Posted by: Jason, Capital Weather Gang | September 6, 2008 11:35 AM | Report abuse

Awww. : ( I was looking forward to that part. :(

Posted by: Jed in Bethesda | September 6, 2008 11:37 AM | Report abuse

Went out for a 15 mile training run on the Capitol Crescent Trail this morning -- and I wasn't the only one out there.

Hit the trail around 7 a.m. in Silver Spring when it was just starting to drizzle and from there the rain increased.

Some water coming over the trail on it's unpaved portion (from Bethesda to Silver Spring)

Now here in Forest Glen the wind and rain are starting to pick up even more.

Posted by: Forest Glen | September 6, 2008 11:43 AM | Report abuse

Rain meter pushing 5 inches now.

Posted by: Yellow Boy in Burke, VA | September 6, 2008 11:44 AM | Report abuse

Max winds even off shore reaching only 35 - 40 kts :see:

Also, see neat depiction of circulation about IKE

Posted by: Steve Tracton | September 6, 2008 11:47 AM | Report abuse

Anybody have any idea where the storm's center is now?

Posted by: OregonNative | September 6, 2008 11:47 AM | Report abuse

Raining this hard must mean there is a soccer game at RFK

Posted by: Rocko | September 6, 2008 11:47 AM | Report abuse

On the other hand buoys at the mouth of the Chesapeake are near 50 kts (57 mph)

Posted by: Steve Tracton | September 6, 2008 11:51 AM | Report abuse

Coming down in sheets here in Lake Ridge, with gusty winds. Just checked the creek behind my condo, and it has roughly quintupled in size...I suspect that I'll have waterfront property before all this is over.

Posted by: meta | September 6, 2008 11:55 AM | Report abuse

I know this is a dumb question, but what exactly is a sustained wind? How long does it have to last?

Posted by: science teacher (Arnold) | September 6, 2008 12:00 PM | Report abuse

A new post is up where comments/questions can resume. Go to our main blog page.

Posted by: Jason, Capital Weather Gang | September 6, 2008 12:02 PM | Report abuse

Heavy rain for the last couple of hours here in Fair Oaks region of Fairfax County. As of 12:00 noon, 3.30 inches since midnight, 3.82 inches storm total. Not much wind- highest gust 15 mph.

Posted by: CM | September 6, 2008 12:03 PM | Report abuse

It's pouring buckets of rain here in the Dumfries/Southbridge area. Gave up on the Direct TV signal here, and hooked up the old Rabbit ears to the TV. Boy am I dating myself! Watching updates on Channel 7. Don't have a rain gauge here, but I'd say we're close to 4 or 4.5 inches here (at least). My in laws live in Calabash, NC (near Sunset Beach and Ocean Isle Beach, real close to where Hanna was to make landfall). If I get any updates from there I'll pass them along. That is, if we still have power. :)

Thanks to the gang for your updated, concise assessments the past few days. Thanks to you all we were able to make some important decisions and keep the family safe.

Posted by: southbridgemom | September 6, 2008 12:10 PM | Report abuse

Radar shows heaviest rain is nearly stationary now over D.C. and Fairfax County. Storm is SE of D.C. and as soon as it moves north of our latitude the rain will pivot out with it. Many roadways are becoming flooded and impassible, according to and other reports.

Posted by: Andrew Freedman, Capital Weather Gang | September 6, 2008 2:08 PM | Report abuse

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