Regional Storms Thrash Trees, Leave 25,000 in the Dark

By Martin Weil and Allan Lengel
Washington Post Staff Writers
Tuesday, June 7, 2005; 12:17 PM

About 5000 Washington area residents were without power at midday today following overnight hail and rain storms that knocked out electricity to about 25,000 homes.

The bulk of the outages were in the Pepco service areas of Prince George's and Montgomery Counties along with the District. About 1300 homes lacked power in Northern Virginia.

Pepco spokeswoman Mary Beth Hutchinson said the company was still getting calls during the afternoon about previously unreported outages and urged residents without electricity to telephone 877-PEPCO62.

She said the outages were scattered across the area, sometimes hitting a single house on a block.

"If they see any equipment down," she said, "they should stay away, even if they don't think it's live" and call the company's emergency number at 202-872-3432.

Dominion Virginia power customers should telephone 888-667-3000 to report outages and fallen lines.

Meanwhile, the thunder and lightning of the early morning hours was replaced by 6-7 MPH breezes and rising temperatures across the region, with forecasts calling for highs in the low 90s and upper 80s through Thursday.

Fueled by the heat and humidity of the day and touched off by cool air advancing along a broad front from the Great Lakes area, the overnight storm appeared to churn directly across downtown Washington on a turbulent track from the northwestern part of the region to the southeastern suburbs.

Fire caused damage estimated at $475,000 to a house in the 9900 block of Vineyard Haven Drive in the Montgomery Village section of Montgomery County after lightning apparently struck the roof, said Pete Piringer, a spokesman for the county fire department.

In Rockville's Manor Lake section, lightning damaged a carport after apparently first striking a backyard tree in the 14900 block of Waterway Drive, Piringer said.

In the District, lightning knocked out the electrical system of a house in the 5900 block of Willow Street NW about 9. The house smoked and smoldered, but no fire broke out, said Alan Etter, a spokesman for the D.C. Fire and Emergency Medical Services.

The storm tore down trees in Greenbrier State Park in Washington County, Md., and at sites all over Frederick County. Also in Ashburn, Ellicott City, and Germantown and in the District, Arlington, Severna Park and on Route 210 about two miles south of Oxon Hill.

In Ashburn, a National Weather Service employee reported a wind gust of 72 mph -- 2 mph below hurricane force. Children's Hospital in the District reportedly clocked a gust of 64 mph. Hail fell on the western edges of the region, including Berryville in Clarke County, Va.

Washington Post Staff Writer Fred Barbash contributed to this story.

© 2005 The Washington Post Company