Severe Storms Leave Damage, Power Outages Behind

Thousands of Customers Still Without Power

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    NEWSLETTERS

    News4's Darcy Spencer went to a spot hit hard twice Thursday in Gaithersburg, Md.

    A violently stormy Thursday has given way to a dreary Friday morning with a drizzling rain -- and thousands in the dark.

    A series of tornado and severe thunderstorm warnings Thursday evening expired at 6:15 p.m., but much of the area remained under a severe thunderstorm watch until 9 p.m.

    Drivers Rattled By Storm Delayed Commute

    [DC] Drivers Rattled By Storm Delayed Commute
    A double dose of severe storms kept traffic at a near standstill during the evening commute Thursday.

    Pepco has 41,181 customers still without power, a number that actually increased since their last report. Approximately 75,000 customers lost power in Montgomery County Thursday morning. Both the White Oak and Walnut Hill Motor Vehicle Administration offices and Montgomery College lost power Thursday and were forced to close.

    A Pepco spokesman said some outages are expected to last for several days. About 30 utility crews from Con Edison and Orange and Rockland Utilities Inc. left New York Thursday afternoon to assist Pepco. The crews are expected to stay until Sunday.

    Incredible Damage From Flooding, Storms

    [DC] Incredible Damage From Flooding, Storms
    This morning's storms ripped holes in roofs, felled trees and washed away an SUV.

    About 500 BGE customers were still without power Thursday evening, down from 22,000 earlier. Dominion Virginia Power said it has 1,669 customers in northern Virginia still were without power on Friday morning.

    Gov. Martin O'Malley sent another letter to the Maryland Public Service Commission asking for an investigation into why Pepco is having so many outages for such long durations.

    "This situation is totally unacceptable," O'Malley wrote. "Power stays on more consistently in many developing nations than it does now in the communities surrounding our nation's capital."

    In Washington, fire and EMS officials said they received about 200 emergency calls related to the storm.

    Heavy Rain Causes Sinkhole

    [DC] Heavy Rain Causes Sinkhole
    Severe weather blows through area causing damage.

    "Every single one of our units was on a call," spokesman Pete Piringer said.

    Flooding also was reported in northern parts of Washington, and Piringer said about a dozen people were rescued from vehicles trapped in flood waters throughout the city.

    Storm Rips Roof Off Building

    [DC] Storm Rips Roof Off Building
    A Gaithersburg building was severely damaged in Thursday's storms.

    In northeast D.C., lightning set fire to a residential attic. One person was treated at a hospital for smoke inhalation.

    Fire officials said 10 people suffered minor injuries when an 80-foot tree fell on an apartment building in Gaithersburg, crushing its second and third floors. Four people were taken to a hospital, and six were treated at the scene. Microburst-strength wind gusts up to 69 mph were recorded in the area, Bell said.

    Heavy rain collapsed the roof of From the Heart Church Ministries in Camp Springs, Md. The morning storms left a 50-foot wide hole after water pooled on the roof and the structure couldn't hold it.

    In northwest Washington, high waters swept away a car on West Beach Drive. The driver said he was stopped when a wall of water suddenly approached. He got out just in time and wasn't injured.

    About a dozen Pentagon workers with mops and vacuums cleaned water from corridors in one area of the huge Defense Department headquarters in northern Virginia, while fans were set up to dry the carpet in another corridor. Another dozen workers were on the roof checking for leaks and other problems, said Lt. Col. Robert Ditchey, a Pentagon spokesman.

    Storms with the potential to produce winds in excess of 60 mph, quarter-size hail and cloud-to-ground lightning began moving through the area at about 2:30 p.m. Thursday. NBC4 meteorologist Chuck Bell warned that the storms could also be capable of producing 1-2 inches of rain in an hour. Radar indicated rotation, though no one reported a tornado.

    A flash flood warning was in effect until 8:45 p.m. for D.C.; parts of Howard, Montgomery and Prince George's counties in Maryland; and Alexandria, Falls Church, Arlington and eastern Fairfax County in Virginia. Residents were warned to prepare for flooding in low-lying areas and on streets with slow drainage.

    The D.C. Department of Public Works handed out sandbags to residents until midnight.

    Another round of violent thunderstorms triggered flooding and other damage across the region Thursday morning, snarling commutes, leaving tens of thousands without power and temporarily shutting down at least two Metro stations.

    Thursday afternoon's storms had been predicted for days, but the morning's were somewhat of a surprise -- so what happened? It started out as a cluster of thunder showers in far southwestern Pennsylvania, NBC4 meteorologist Tom Kierein reported. They moved into Washington County, Md., as a cluster of moderate-to-heavy rain with some lightning, but no damaging winds. As the storms moved into Frederick and Montgomery counties, they rapidly developed.

    It was a small-scale situation with unpredictable development, Kierein said.

    Around 6 a.m., a line of thunderstorms grew quickly while moving south, taking wind gusts in Montgomery County from 20 mph to more than 70 mph very quickly, leading to downed trees and power outages. Parts of the county received 2.5 inches of rain in only 30 minutes.

    The storms then moved south through the District and northern Virginia, leading to flash flood warnings in D.C., Arlington and Falls Church. A flash flood warning for parts of Prince George's, Calvert, Charles and St. Mary's counties in Maryland expired at 10:45 a.m.

    The Forest Glen Metro station closed temporarily due to power outages, and reopened at 9:20 a.m. Thursday. Due to downed trees, trains were single-tracking on the Red Line between Silver Spring and Takoma Park until personnel cleared the tracks at 9:40 a.m. That fallen tree also delayed a Brunswick Line MARC train.

    The Cleveland Park Metro station lost power temporarily and remained closed due to flooding until 3:15 p.m. Thursday.

    Metro has warned that Metrobus and MetroAccess vehicles may be running late due to the storms and their aftermath.

    The blog Unsuck D.C. Metro posted a video of water gushing through the roof at the Foggy Bottom-GWU Metro station:

    Service on MARC's Penn line was delayed between Baltimore and Washington because of power outages.

    High water was reported on many local streets and highways. Do not try to drive through standing water.

    The District Department of Transportation is reminding drivers to treat intersections as four-way stops if the stoplights are out. 

    Thanks to fallen trees, high water and blinding downpours, gridlock in Montgomery County continued into Thursday afternoon, NBC4's Tracee Wilkins reported. About 200 intersections were without power in the county, with police manning about 40 to 50 of them. Ten roads in the county have been closed.

    Traffic signals at about two dozen intersections in the District were out Thursday morning. Another 22 intersections in the District were flashing red and yellow lights only. Traffic control officers, generators and portable stop signs were deployed.

    For emergencies or to report "hot" or sparking wires, call 911.

    To report downed trees in the public right-of-way, call 311 in Montgomery County, or 240-777-0311 outside Montgomery County.

    To report power outages, call Pepco at 877-737-2662, Allegheny Power at 800-255-3443, or Baltimore Gas & Electric at 877-778-2222.

    "As power is restored in areas, downed wires that were previously dead may become live," said a release from Montgomery County. "Residents are urged to exercise extreme caution around any downed power line."

    Send your photos of the storm to isee@nbcwashington.com.


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