Storms wreak havoc

Published 11:01 pm Saturday, July 21, 2012

A series of strong thunderstorms swept through Suffolk on Saturday, leaving portions of the city without power and a number of streets closed because of flooding.

At 7 p.m., a rain gauge at Fire Station Five on Bridge Road had measured 3.06 inches of rainfall in the previous 24 hours or so, according to Suffolk spokeswoman Debbie George.

A portion of eastbound Bridge Road in the 3200 block had been reported as impassable, and in the downtown area, portions of County Street, Clay Street, Henley Place and Market Street were flooded, according to George.

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With rain falling faster than the stormwater system could remove it, streets around Suffolk turned to rivers in the late afternoon. North Main Street was closed briefly at the 700 block because of surface flooding, but George said in an email at 7 p.m. that it had been reopened.

Suffolk officials had posted a warning on Friday on the city’s social networking sites and via its new emergency notification system that the city could see as much as 4 inches of rain during the weekend.

At 8 p.m. Saturday, the weather station at the Suffolk Executive Airport was reporting 2.4 inches of rain since Friday.

Lightning from the storms had caused its own share of problems, knocking out power in various parts of the city, especially downtown.

George said in an email that traffic lights had been knocked out at the intersections of Katherine Street and East Constance Road, East Washington Street and White Marsh Road, Factory Street and East Washington Street, East Washington Street and North Main Street, East Washington Street and North Sixth Street, Providence and Pruden Boulevard, and Suburban and Portsmouth Boulevard.

Power was out in portions of the downtown and southern areas of the city, with nearly 4,000 customers still waiting to have their electricity restored at 8 p.m.

The U.S. Weather Service was calling for an inch and a half more rain to fall in Suffolk today and tomorrow.