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Flash floods soak Washington, D.C., area, prompt water rescues

By Thomas Leffler, Accuweather.com
Firefighters and other emergency personnel participate in a water rescue on Rhode Island Avenue Northeast in Washington, D.C., on Wednesday afternoon. Photo courtesy DC Fire and EMS/Twitter
Firefighters and other emergency personnel participate in a water rescue on Rhode Island Avenue Northeast in Washington, D.C., on Wednesday afternoon. Photo courtesy DC Fire and EMS/Twitter

Aug. 11 -- Travel across the Washington, D.C., area became chaotic Wednesday as flash flooding quickly rose water to disastrous levels, prompting numerous water rescues.

Flash flood warnings were issued for the nation's capital, as well as surrounding cities such as Baltimore, Arlington, Va., and Silver Spring, Md, through the evening hours.

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Rain began to come down in massive amounts around late Wednesday afternoon in D.C. and north of Lexington, Va., and more than 4 inches of rain ended up falling on the D.C. area over a two-hour period.

High water levels quickly encompassed Washington, D.C., proper, including on Rhode Island Avenue and New Jersey Avenue, creating havoc for drivers in the city.

Local commuters taking public transportation were not immune from rainfall, as water began to seep into local Metro trains.

Another video captured water falling from the ceiling at the Capitol South Station of the D.C. Metro service.

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North of the city in Greenbelt, Md., lanes of the Beltway Outer Loop remained flooded into the evening commute, blocked by stalled vehicles.

The harrowing scene has elicited water rescue responses, including a report of as many as 10 automobiles stuck in high water on I-95, with one noted as being fully submerged on the Capital Beltway.

One person on the interstate was rescued. Inside of a Greenbelt abode, two people were rescued from inside a basement. D.C. Fire and EMS rescued a driver from the roof of their vehicle on Rhode Island Avenue as high-standing water rose up to the car's headlights.

While ground travel has been severely hampered, air travel took on its own challenges in the D.C. area.

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Due to the thunderstorms, arriving flight delays averaged nearly five hours into Wednesday evening at Reagan National Airport. According to FlightAware, more than 100 arriving flights at Reagan were canceled. By early Thursday, the majority of the delays had been resolved.

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Adding to the frightening scene were lightning strikes captured on the city's Washington Monument EarthCam, showing off the eerie conditions in the afternoon.

The source of the rainfall is a slow-moving cold front, which remains a factor across the Ohio Valley and into the Northeast, including the I-95 corridor encompassing Washington, D.C., and Baltimore.

Other cities that were at risk for flooding or weather-related travel delays on Wednesday night included Nashville, Charleston, W.Va., and Richmond, Va.

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