Lightning bolts filmed in Silver Spring, Md., on June 9, 2009.
The D.C. area is under a severe thunderstorm watch until 9 p.m. and a flash flood watch until 11 p.m. as storms move through the area, toppling trees and causing thousands of power outages.
Several severe thunderstorm and flash flood warnings also were issued Tuesday evening.
Strong winds knocked down a tree on the White House's North Lawn. The tree appeared to have been snapped off near its base during a storm. The large tree had stood between Pennsylvania Avenue and the West Wing.
It was a European linden, said White House spokesman Bill Burton. Grounds crews on Wednesday will grind up the tree to use it for mulch. The tree was planted in 1940 but not by a president to mark a special occasion, Burton said.
In Northwest, a tree fell on a house that caught fire.
The D.C. government is distributing sandbags to residents in flood-prone areas at New Jersey Avenue and K Street in Southeast untill 11 p.m.
Tuesday started with storms that caused flooding, power outages and toppled trees, causing commuting problems for many.