Back-to-back waves of violent weather hit D.C. area

Heavy rains doused the D.C. area Wednesday morning, slowing the a.m. commute and forcing about a dozen rescues. The floods come after a storm last Thursday downed trees and knocked out power to thousands.
By Michael E. Ruane
Washington Post Staff Writer
Friday, August 13, 2010

A second wave of violent weather roared across the Washington region late Thursday, dumping rain and hail and whipping up dangerous winds only 12 hours after a similar line of storms brought havoc to the area in the morning.

Violent downpours from gusty thunderstorms drenched areas already soaked from the morning's deluge, and the National Weather Service issued a series of tornado and flash-flood warnings from northern Maryland to as far south as Richmond.

But after leaving inundated streets, downed trees and tens of thousands of power outages over a huge swath of the region, the severe weather weakened and the threat of tornadoes dissipated, though waterspouts were reported on the Honga River on Maryland's Eastern Shore.

The region might see more showers Friday, but forecasters said that any precipitation would fall far short of Thursday's levels, when a minivan was swept into Rock Creek in the District and carried a quarter-mile downstream. The driver escaped unhurt.

It was the third day of violent, destructive weather locally in three weeks. And it came on top of a July earthquake and a summer of excruciating heat.

Repent, someone tweeted, partly in jest.

Thursday's storms struck a week after a similar system smashed across Alexandria and Prince George's County on Aug. 5. Another, even stronger, system pounded Montgomery County and the District on July 25.

The damage and power outages from this summer's storms seem unprecedented, and forecasters have noted that it has been a particularly hot summer. There have been 51 days of 90-degree or higher temperatures, according to the Capital Weather Gang, and 20 days of 95-degree readings or higher.

There have also been four 100-degree days.

"This has been a very extreme summer," said Dan Stillman of the Capital Weather Gang, noting that there were no 100-degree days last summer and only 21 days when the temperature reached 90.

But Stillman said the heat extremes might not be entirely to blame for the severe weather.

"You could easily get the kind of storms we've gotten when you have summer temperatures that are pretty warm and not quite as hot," he said.

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