As winds appeared to be rising after midnight, the number of outages reported by Baltimore Gas and Electric alone jumped to nearly 300,000. More than one third of them were in Anne Arundel County.
Increasing numbers of fallen trees were reported in at least two jurisdictions, the District and Prince George’s County.
After making landfall in North Carolina, with gusts up to 115 mph, Hurricane Irene continued its fierce and relentless march north toward New York City and New England. Governors and mayors spent much of Saturday pleading with people to get out of the storm’s way.
The storm arrived at day’s first light, at a point appropriately named Cape Lookout on the Outer Banks. As the hurricane spread beyond North Carolina, the most densely populated stretch in the country all but ground to a halt.
Airlines canceled 9,000 flights along the East Coast, Amtrak stopped all trains from Boston south and Greyhound suspended bus service between Richmond and Boston for the rest of the weekend. Capital Bikeshare halted all bike rentals in the District.
The subway stopped running in New York City. The three airports serving the Washington area remained open Saturday evening, but most flights had been scratched. The Chesapeake Bay Bridge was closed at 7:35 p.m. because of severe winds and unsafe driving conditions.
Power outages increased by the hour as winds toppled trees and power lines. More than 980,000 residential and business customers of Dominion Power were without electricity early Sunday in Virginia and North Carolina, the company reported. The Richmond area and southeastern Virginia were hit hardest. At 2 a.m. Sunday the figure in Dominion’s northern Virginia region was about 86,000.
Pepco’s outage numbers rose about 180,000 around 2 a.m. Sunday.
Of BGE’s nearly 300,000 outages, most were reported in Anne Arundel County and Prince George’s County, with 94,000 and 21,000 customers affected, respectively.
At one point, tens of thousands of customers of the Southern Maryland Electric Cooperative were without power, a large number in St. Mary’s County.
Outages were increasing in Maryland on Sunday morning as the storm drove north along the coast of the Delmarva region.
“This is a very dangerous time,” Virginia Gov. Robert F. McDonnell said around 8 p.m., warning there could be tidal flooding in Hampton Roads with a storm surge of at least eight feet.
Early this morning wind gusts in the Washington area continued to rise above 40 mph.