CLICK HERE TO LISTEN TO THE LATEST REPORT FROM WMAL'S MARTIN DICARO.
Thursday was anything but business as usual for the city of Laurel, Md. Heavy rains paired with frozen ground created the perfect conditions for a city-wide flood warning.
Excessive rainfall prompted Laurel officials to release some water from the Brighton and Duckett dams. City officials Thursday called for a voluntary evacuation, especially for people in areas at highest risk of flooding, such as those north of the city's Main Street, says Laurel spokesperson Pete Piringer. The mayor declared a civil emergency for the city.
Though cleanup efforts have been running "smoothly" so far, Piringer says, there is still no word on when residents will get a firm nod to move back home. The city is still monitoring the damage to determine whether to make evacuation mandatory instead of voluntary.
"We expect the water to linger for a couple days," he said.
So far, Route 1 over the Patuxent River has been closed, as well as a number of area roads. One MARC train commuter lot was closed after being completely submerged, Piringer said.
Property damage has not been "significant" so far, Piringer says, but some businesses surrounding the city's train station, such as body and repair shops, have been affected by floodwaters.
Up to 6 inches fell in areas by the Patuxent River, according to the Associated Press. The quantity of rain was large enough to cause pressure on the dams, prompting officials to relieve them by releasing some water.
Flooding conditions such as these occur during the winter months because the ground freezes, preventing the soil from soaking up the rainwater that falls, according to Jon Dillow, supervisory hydrologist with the U.S. Geological Survey.
"In the summertime when it rains, you can get 50, 60, 70 percent of the rain that comes down going back up into the air as evaporated or sinking into the ground because the ground's dry and parched and likes to soak that water up," he said. "But you don't have those factors working as much at this time of year."
One person has drowned in a homeless camp in Maryland City, according to the Associated Press.
BELOW IS THE LATEST STATEMENT FROM THE NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE:
NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE BALTIMORE MD/WASHINGTON DC
209 PM EST THU JAN 31 2013
PRINCE GEORGES MD-ANNE ARUNDEL MD-HOWARD MD-
209 PM EST THU JAN 31 2013
...THE FLOOD WARNING REMAINS IN EFFECT UNTIL 630 PM EST FOR EXTREME
SOUTH CENTRAL HOWARD...SOUTHWESTERN ANNE ARUNDEL AND NORTHEASTERN
PRINCE GEORGES COUNTIES...
AT 204 PM EST...RELEASES CONTINUE OUT OF DUCKETT DAM ON THE PATUXENT
RIVER. THE CURRENT RIVER LEVEL BELOW THE DAM AT ROUTE 1 IS OVER 11
FEET. THE COMMUTER PARKING LOT IN LAUREL IS REPORTED TO BE FLOODED
AND CLOSED. EVACUATIONS ARE UNDERWAY IN LAUREL...AND THE RIVERSIDE
PARK AND RIVERWALK ARE FLOODED. BASED ON PROJECTED RELEASES FROM
DUCKETT DAM...THE RIVER WILL RISE FURTHER THIS AFTERNOON...AND
SHOULD CREST BY LATE AFTERNOON OR EARLY EVENING AS RELEASES LESSEN
OUT OF DUCKETT DAM.
STAY AWAY FROM THE PATUXENT RIVER DOWNSTREAM OF DUCKETT DAM! THIS IS
A DANGEROUS SITUATION. INTERESTS ALONG THE RIVER BETWEEN LAUREL AND
BOWIE SHOULD HAVE ALREADY TAKEN ACTION TO PROTECT LIFE AND PROPERTY
AND MOVE TO HIGHER GROUND. INTERESTS FROM BOWIE FURTHER DOWNSTREAM
SHOULD CAREFULLY WATCH THE STREAM AND TAKE PRECAUTIONARY ACTIONS
NOW. BASED ON UPSTREAM FLOWS...THE RIVER WILL LIKELY RISE QUITE A
BIT FROM ITS CURRENT LEVEL.
A FLOOD WARNING MEANS THAT FLOODING IS IMMINENT OR HAS BEEN REPORTED.
STREAM RISES WILL BE SLOW AND FLASH FLOODING IS NOT EXPECTED.
HOWEVER...ALL INTERESTED PARTIES SHOULD TAKE NECESSARY PRECAUTIONS
MOST FLOOD DEATHS OCCUR IN AUTOMOBILES. NEVER DRIVE YOUR VEHICLE INTO
AREAS WHERE THE WATER COVERS THE ROADWAY. FLOOD WATERS ARE USUALLY
DEEPER THAN THEY APPEAR. JUST ONE FOOT OF FLOWING WATER IS POWERFUL
ENOUGH TO SWEEP VEHICLES OFF THE ROAD. WHEN ENCOUNTERING FLOODED
ROADS MAKE THE SMART CHOICE...TURN AROUND...DONT DROWN.
TO REPORT FLOODING...HAVE THE NEAREST LAW ENFORCEMENT AGENCY RELAY
YOUR REPORT TO THE NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE FORECAST OFFICE.