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Torrential Rain to Douse Pimlico Race Course Ahead of Preakness

How quickly rain departs the Baltimore area and returns will determine if there will be any edge for mudders for the 2014 Black-Eyed Susan and Preakness stakes at Pimlico.

Rain will converge on northern Maryland and Pimlico Race Course late this week, ahead of the 2014 Preakness Stakes.

A few hours are needed for the track to dry thoroughly after a heavy rain, according to officials of the Maryland Jockey Club.

The steadiest rain is forecast to fall from late Thursday night into the midday hours on Friday. Locally drenching thunderstorms with strong winds can erupt ahead of the steady rain Thursday evening.

Enough rain can fall on the area to cause flash and urban flooding in northern Maryland.

Friday is Black-Eyed Susan Day at Pimlico. Post time for the filly race is 4:47 p.m. EDT. Occasional light rain may linger from the middle of the afternoon to close to the start of the stakes race late in the day. Whether or not the track has a chance to dry thoroughly following the heavy rainfall is uncertain.

Temperatures are forecast to hover in the 60s F much of the day on Friday.

The storm system forecast to move through on Friday has had a history of torrential rainfall and flash flooding from Texas to the Midwest earlier this week and is moving eastward at a slow pace.

Moisture from the storm may join up with tropical moisture that caused flash flooding over the Caribbean last weekend.

According to Northeast Weather Expert Dave Dombek, "A general 1 to 2 inches of rain is forecast to fall on the Baltimore area during Friday over a six- to eight-hour period but locally higher amounts can occur."

Officials of the Maryland Jockey Club said the dirt track at Pimlico dries fast and runs well in mud.

According to Mike Gathagan, vice president of communications of the Maryland Jockey Club, "As a precaution, crews can seal the track after racing activities on Thursday, ahead of the rain."

Any delay in the departure of the rainfall on Friday could have more direct effect on racing activities into Friday afternoon.

The period from Friday evening through the middle of Saturday afternoon is most likely to be rain-free.

On Saturday, there is the chance of very spotty showers late in the day and during the evening. However, much of the day will bring some sunshine and good drying conditions.

If showers stay away late Saturday, the track is likely to be fast. Post time for Saturday's Preakness is 6:18 p.m. EDT, with temperatures close to 70 F.

"During Saturday late afternoon and evening, spotty showers and thunderstorms are likely to pop up over northern Maryland and Virginia as a puddle of chilly air moves in high in the atmosphere," Dombek said.

The development and exact track of small-scale showers are challenging to predict.

"Much of the time will be free of rain Saturday evening, but there is just that remote chance one of those pop-up showers will wander through," Dombek said.

Despite the good drying conditions Friday night and Saturday, a downpour just prior to start of the Preakness on Saturday might give the mudders an edge.