Story Update:   A more recent version of this article is available here.

Across Area, a Gusty Wintry Wallop

A snowblower is used to clear a street in Myersville, in Frederick County, as children head for the hills. Montgomery, Anne Arundel, Fairfax, Loudoun and Prince William counties canceled school today, and Alexandria announced a delay.
A snowblower is used to clear a street in Myersville, in Frederick County, as children head for the hills. Montgomery, Anne Arundel, Fairfax, Loudoun and Prince William counties canceled school today, and Alexandria announced a delay. (By Ricky Carioti -- The Washington Post)

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By Michael E. Ruane and Steve Vogel
Washington Post Staff Writers
Thursday, February 15, 2007

The Washington region struggled to recover yesterday from the deadly northeaster that knocked out power to tens of thousands, closed schools and airports, and clogged roads with snow, sleet, ice and slush.

The storm left houses unheated in frigid temperatures, and high winds hampered cleanup efforts and blew down a portion of a tree that killed a Loudoun County teenager. In Crofton, a 12-year-old boy was critically injured when his sled veered onto a roadway and was struck by a pickup truck, officials said.

In Anne Arundel and Prince George's counties, where the storm produced severe icing, about 77,000 households were without power last night, and officials opened numerous emergency shelters.

As temperatures plummeted into the teens and 20s, some slushy roads refroze and electrical utilities worried that the wind could cause more damage to weakened trees and power lines.

Linda Foy, a spokeswoman for Baltimore Gas and Electric, said that as workers restored power to tens of thousands of customers yesterday, others lost power. Late yesterday, she struck an optimistic note, saying that the utility's number of outages had dropped to about 71,000 from the day's high of about 90,000.

"We should really see those numbers go down significantly" today as crews from other states help out, she said. She said power for most of the company's customers is expected to be restored by tonight, though a relative few might take until tomorrow night.

The snow and ice prompted schools in Fairfax, Loudoun, Prince William and Stafford counties, along with Manassas city schools, to cancel classes today. Alexandria schools are scheduled to open two hours late. In Maryland, classes were also called off for today in Montgomery and Prince George's counties. The District's schools also will be closed.

The National Weather Service predicted dry but cold weather in the Washington area through tomorrow, with highs in the upper 20s to lower 30s. Winds today are expected to range from 10 to 15 mph, with gusts of up to 25 mph, said meteorologist Brian Lasorsa.

In Loudoun, yesterday's winds were fierce enough to cause the death of 15-year-old Jennifer Zilke, a Loudoun Valley High School student from Bluemont. She was killed about 3 p.m. as she strolled with her father and her 9-year-old sister in the family's front yard and a gust ripped the top off an old, dead tree, authorities said.

There was a crack, and then a large portion of the tree came crashing down, crushing the girl, said Loudoun sheriff's spokesman Kraig Troxell.

Zilke was unconscious when paramedics arrived but was breathing, Troxell said. She was taken to Inova Loudoun Hospital in Leesburg, where she was pronounced dead.

Few details were available about the 12-year-old sledding victim in Anne Arundel. He was identified as Colin Davis, and he was taken to Johns Hopkins Children's Center.


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