Annapolis residents woke up Friday morning to nearly 4 feet of flood waters on City Dock after going to bed Thursday without power after strange lights lit up the sky.
"The flooding is more substantial than [Superstorm] Sandy," Annapolis Harbormaster Flip Walters said. "The Naval Academy measures at 3.95 [feet above normal]. I suspect we are going to get up to somewhere 4.1 [feet]."
The city closed Compromise Street between St. Mary's Street and Memorial Circle. This means drivers coming from Eastport to Annapolis cannot use the Eastport Bridge. Dock Street is closed as well as a section of Randall Street in front of the Market House.
High tide will be at 12:21 p.m., but Walters said that doesn't necessarily mean that's when the water level will peak. With the winds shifting to a westerly direction, Walters said the water could start receding before then.
The flooding caught the owners of Stevens Hardware at 142 Dock St. by surprise because the rains didn't seem substantial on Thursday night.
"This was completely unexpected," Mike Stevens said. "This is higher than Sandy."
Unlike his neighbors at Dock Street Bar & Grill, Storm Bros. Ice Cream and Armadillo's, Stevens' first floor remained dry because it's raised about 1 foot above the street.
Stevens joked that his family was going to use that as a selling point for the property. The Hardware Store is closing for good on Christmas Eve after more than 50 years in business.
Walters, however, wasn't surprised by the flooding.
"The flooding is not caused by rain storms," Walters said. "It's caused by southern or south-eastern winds down at the end of the bay that prevents the bay from draining."
He said to think of it like a faucet. All the water from Maryland's rivers flows to one 20-mile wide "faucet" opening in the Chesapeake Bay where it pours out into the ocean.
"When you get a south-easterly wind down there, it closes the faucet," Walters said.
He also cautioned drivers against trying to "blow through" the flood waters.
"This is not fresh water; this is salt water," Walters said. "They are just spraying the whole underside of their car—and their brakes—with salt water, which is highly corrosive."
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