It’s Raining Inside the Metro as Flash Floods Rage Across Washington, DC

Gif: Niina Farah (Twitter)

Washington, D.C. commuters came back to work after the long weekend with a bang. Powerful storms swept across the nation’s capital, inundating roadways, unleashing flash floods, and creating at least two waterfalls in the Metro system. Even the White House experienced some flooding.


Swamp status: full.

The entire Washington, D.C. metro area is under some form of flash flood or watch as of Monday morning. The National Weather Service is reporting that “over three inches of rain” have already fallen in many places with water on some creeks reportedly rising up to nine feet in just 30 minutes and the storm looks to be a one in every 100-200 year event according to Aon meteorologist Steven Bowen. The warning continues:

“This is a dangerous situation. DO NOT DRIVE into any area where water covers the road! If water comes up around you as you are driving, move to higher ground as quickly as possible!”

All that rain falling during the morning commute has unleashed havoc from Baltimore to Washington, D.C. to Northern Virginia. The DC Metro, which has become somewhat infamous for its summertime floods, has been hit particularly hard, with a waterfall dropping from the ceiling of the Virginia Square station in Arlington. Multiple Metro riders, including E&E News climate reporter Niina Farah, captured the dramatic scene of water pouring down from the ceiling to the tracks below as trains passed underneath. Elevators at the Pentagon Metro station also turned into waterfalls.


But the flooding is hardly all subterranean. Many roadways were quickly turned into rivers of rushing water this morning. According to Capital Weather Gang, there have already been multiple high water rescues. Local traffic reporter David Dildine captured some of the flooding on the aptly-named Canal Rd. in northwest Washington, D.C. and tweeted that he had to swim to safety. Other commuters captured buses trapped as floodwaters rushed from creeks into the streets. The whole episode underscores why, when the National Weather Service or your local meteorologist intones “turn around, don’t drown,” you should listen.


Not to be outdone, the White House is also under siege from water. The streets out front have completely flooded and White House reporters confirmed that water was seeping in through the basement. The floodwaters are rising on a day when the President Trump is set to deliver remarks on his administration’s “environmental leadership,” which amounts to leaving the world’s main climate treaty and rolling back climate and environmental regulations.


Heavy downpours like the one swallowing Washington, D.C. are on the rise nationwide due to the simple fact a warmer atmosphere can hold more water. At the same time, much of our infrastructure is not ready for the deluges of today (this isn’t Metro’s first flood rodeo), let alone the more powerful ones of tomorrow. The Trump administration’s policies are ensuring these types of events could happen more often so, uh Trump might want to take a raincheck on that speech.


Managing editor at Earther, writing about climate change, environmental justice, and, occasionally, my cat.


David E. Davis

Just the swamp living up to its name.