Ocean City Storm Update, Thursday Evening

Posted on November 12, 2009


Severe Conditions on the Barrier Island

4: 20 p.m. Thursday: Many of the streets are flooded in downtown Ocean City, Maryland, following the Thursday-afternoon high tide.

Long lines of traffic are backed up going in and out of town at the Route 50 Bridge. You have to drive through three blocks of standing water on Philadelphia Avenue to get onto the bridge leaving town. The going is slow, the water is curb deep or a little higher in many places on the street, from about 3rd Street south to the bridge. I was wondering if my midsize car would make it. I felt fortunate to get onto the bridge and home to West Ocean City. Pickups and big SUVs do better than cars.

The Route 90 bridge is closed for repairs, so there are only two ways in and out of Ocean City — the Route 50 Bridge and driving north on the Coastal Highway across the Delaware line.

But I wouldn’t count on leaving via Delaware. Police have closed Route 1 on the coast between Rehoboth Beach and Bethany Beach. Sounds to me like the ocean is trying to cut a new inlet at that point in Delaware. Delaware has declared a state of emergency in Kent and Sussex Counties in southern Delaware.

This storm reminds us that Ocean City is a thin barrier island of sand at the edge of the mighty Atlantic Ocean.

I was on the island during the afternoon high tide. The tide is now receding, so perhaps the water on the streets will abate. But don’t count on it. I think the storm may  get worse overnight. And we have another high tide coming up at about 3:30 a.m.

Heavy rain is being driven by a gale coming almost directly from the north. I am estimating at least 30 mph wind, sometimes gusting to 50 mph. The wind is strong enough to rock my car gently waiting at a stop light. If you are not in the shelter of a building, it is very difficult to walk against the wind. It stopped me in my tracks several times.

Walking on the beach parking lot (the part that’s not under water), the wind was hitting me so strong that I considered the possibility that the wind could knock me over and blow me into  the Inlet. I decided to go no closer to the Inlet, and had to hang on to a post in the parking lot to take a picture.

Police have closed Philadelphia Avenue from the bridge south to the Inlet. It’s all flooded in that area, and the side streets as well. Baltimore Avenue is still open, but you might find pools of water on Baltimore Avenue too.

The Inlet Parking Lot is closed to cars, and a good portion of the lot is flooded. It’s not safe to walk on the Inlet Parking Lot right now, in my opinion. The wind is too strong. For that matter, it’s not safe to walk anywhere in such a gale. You wouldn’t want be hit by an airborne sign or a piece of lumber. –John Hayden

(I hope to post photos as soon as I process them.)