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Flooding, hazardous travel likely

[This post will be updated]

The Capital Weather Gang says Tropical Storm Nicole is no more but Washington will experience "a very significant rainmaker." The National Weather Service has issued a flash flood watch for the region that lasts until Thursday evening. Rainfall totals will range from 2 to 4 inches, with up to six inches possible.

Be alert for possible flooding during your travels Thursday. You may also have to contend with darkened intersections due to power outages -- remember to treat those as four-way stops.

Drive with caution, especially in areas that are prone to flooding. According to the Federal Emergency Management Agency:
-- Six inches of water will reach the bottom of most passenger cars and may cause you to lose control or stall.
-- A foot of water will float many vehicles.
-- Two feet of rushing water can carry away most vehicles -- even SUVs and pickups.

Flooding is likely in low-lying areas and on streets with slow drainage. Additionally, flooded areas may be more difficult to identify at night, they said.

D.C. officials said the city was preparing for the possibility of wind gusts that may down trees and for flooding. Officials also asked that residents help keep sidewalks clear of small branches and storm debris, which the city would pick up later.

Officials with Virginia Railway Express, the commuter rail line, said trains may have to operate under speed restrictions, depending on the severity of the weather. If that happens, portions of the Manssas Line may be limited to 15 mph travel, causing delays of at least an hour on the line. Portions of the Fredricksburg Line would be restricted to 40 mph near bridges, culverts and other areas with flooding potential, causing delays of at least 30 minutes. The decision would be made by the railroads, like CSX, that own the tracks.

Report problems
Utilities
-- BGE outages: 877-778-2222; downed wires: 800-685-0123; outage map
-- Dominion outages and downed wires: 866-366-4357; outage map
-- Northern Virginia Electric Cooperative outages and downed wires: 703-335-0500; outage reports
-- Pepco outages: 877-737-2662; downed wires: 202-872-343; outage map
-- Washington Gas: 800-752-7520

Downed trees and debris in roads
Anne Arundel County: After hours, 410-222-6120; northern district, 410-222-6120; central district, 410-222-7940; southern district; 410-222-7940; Annapolis; 410-263-7870.
Arlington County:703-228-6527; after hours, 703-558-2222.
Calvert County: 410-535-1600.
Charles County: 301-932-3450 or 301-870-2778.
The District: 311; clogged storm drains, 202-612-3400.
Fairfax County: 703-324-5033 (Public Works); 571-350-1000 (Emergency Management); 703-383-VDOT.
Howard County: 410-313-3440.
Loudoun County:703-777-0333 (Emergency Management); 703-383-VDOT.
Maryland State: 800-543-2515.
Montgomery County: 240-777-6000.
Prince George's County: 301-499-8520; after hours, 301-499-8600.
Prince William County: 703-792-7070 or 703-383-VDOT.
Virginia State: 703-383-VDOT.

Road conditions
Live traffic map | Maryland | Virginia

Here are some additional resources:

Capital Weather Gang | Radar Map |
Share your photos | NOAA Flood Safety

By Michael Bolden  | September 30, 2010; 1:07 AM ET
Categories:  Commuting, District, Driving, Northern Virginia, Virginia  
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