Heavy, training thunderstorms Sunday afternoon and evening lead to a catastrophic flood event in Ellicott City, Maryland, a city just a few miles west of Baltimore. At 4:40pm ET, the National Weather Service office at Washington, DC/Baltimore issued a Flash Flood Emergency for the Ellicott City area. Less than an hour later, the government’s weather service then released this statement on Twitter: “**FLASH FLOOD EMERGENCY** remains in effect for Ellicott City. This is an EXTREMELY DANGEROUS AND POTENTIALLY CATASTROPHIC situation and you must move to HIGHER GROUND IMMEDIATELY AND STAY AWAY FROM ANYWHERE WHERE WATER IS MOVING.” A few moments later as the reports of damage and widespread flooding came in, Maryland Governor Larry Hogan declared a State of Emergency for Howard County.

Radar estimates suggests 6 to 10 inches of rainfall in and around the city, including 9.71 inches at in Catonsville.

Credit: NWS Washington, DC/Baltimore

This heavy rain allowed for a dramatic rise in the nearby rivers. In the Patapsco River near Elkridge, Maryland, water levels rose from about 6 feet up to 24.36 feet in just a few minutes. That brought the river up to major flood stage, and the record crest of 23.6 feet was broken before it appears the station malfunctioned or was possibly swept away.

Significant flooding has occurred in the past before. Most recently, the same locations dealt with a terrible flooding event on July 30th, 2016, which killed 2 people. This and that event in 2016 were both 1 in 1000-year events, which means that there’s a 0.1% chance of something similar happening in a given year. Thus was the 15th recorded catastrophic flood in Ellicott City since 1768. These flood situations have been worsening, thanks to the increase in developed land. This city sits in an area of lower elevation where water all funnels down toward this city and the river, thus allowing for flooding to occur whenever widespread heavy rain falls.

Below are various photos and videos from Ellicott City, showing the horrific scenes the flooding brought.


Jackson is Head of Content at WeatherOptics and produces several forecasts and manages all social media platforms. Previously, Jackson forecasted local weather for southwestern Connecticut, founding his website, Jackson's Weather, in the March of 2015. He is currently studying Meteorology and Broadcast Journalism at the University of Miami.

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