Fierce winds and torrential rains lashed the Washington area yesterday as the remnants of Hurricane Bob churned northward, tearing down power lines, collapsing tents at the Boy Scout jamboree in central Virginia, snarling airline schedules and capsizing a seaplane in the Washington Channel.
As Bob, downgraded to a tropical depression, moved into Virginia it spawned at least two confirmed tornadoes, one near Richmond and another in the Charlottesville area, the National Weather Service reported. Several sightings of funnel clouds were also reported in the Washington area.
There were no immediate reports of serious injuries as a result of the twisters. In the Washington area, however, wet roads were cited as a factor in four traffic deaths.
More rain is expected today before the storm, which began in the Florida Keys and was centered early last night near Roanoke, finally dissipates, according to the weather service.
Five persons were aboard a pontoon-equipped single-engine Cessna 210 in the Washington Channel near Hains Point shortly before 2 p.m. as billowing black clouds and a rising wind heralded the arrival of the storm from the west.
Scheduled shooting of a chase scene for "Lime Street," a new ABC television series, had already been called off when the wind, which gusted to 48 mph at National Airport, flipped the plane over, according to authorities.
D.C. Harbor Police, who were already near the plane, helped its five occupants to safety. Officer Larry Petropulos, a 14-year police veteran, dived into the wind-roiled waters to aid in the rescue, which TV producers said was not filmed.
"One guy was struggling to stay above the water," Petropulos said. "He was being blown away by high winds, so I stripped my gun belt off and went after him first."
The star of the series, Robert Wagner, who had been in a boat nearby, had reached shore earlier, police said.
The storm's high winds and heavy rain were blamed for damaging trees, branches and power lines that cut off electricity for varying periods to a total of about 30,000 homes and businesses throughout the Maryland and Virginia suburbs, according to utility company officials.
With the heaviest rain believed over but additional showers still expected, rainfall totals varied sharply last night. Dulles International Airport reported about half an inch; National airport 0.92 inch. Temple Hills got more than one and one-third inches, and Laurel 2.7 inches, according to the weather service.
After coming ashore late Wednesday at Fripp Island, S.C., with winds barely exceeding the 74 mph hurricane minimum, Bob dumped up to six inches of rain in the Carolinas and forced thousands of people to seek emergency shelter as it headed northward.
At Fort A.P. Hill near Fredericksburg, Va., rain soaked hundreds of sleeping bags after wind tore down tents used by some of the 32,000 Boy Scouts holding their 11th jamboree.
More than 50 large staff tents and about 100 portable toilets were reported knocked over.
The weather service said one of the two confirmed tornadoes touched down north of Charlottesville, near the border between Albemarle and Greene counties. Officials said it caused heavy damage to eight or 10 houses and caused several minor injuries. The other tornado was in Hanover County, north of Richmond.
In the Washington area sightings of funnel clouds were reported near Lorton, Great Falls and Darnestown. A house under construction in the Great Falls area collapsed.
In a storm-related incident in Montgomery County, two persons were fatally injured about 4 p.m. on Rte. 355 at Wheatfield Road in the Germantown area when Susan Orndorff Roberts, 35, of Woodbine, apparently lost control of her car while entering a curve, county police said.
They said the car crossed the center line and collided with another vehicle. Roberts and her daughter, Tricia, 5, were killed. Police said both speed and a rain-slick roadway contributed to the accident. They said they did not know whether the victims were using seat belts.
In the District, at about the same time, Moses Benjamin, 44, of 315 Decatur St. NW, was killed when his van crossed the center line in the 2300 block of Rhode Island Ave. NE and collided with an eastbound auto, police said. Investigators said they had not determined the cause, but witnesses said Benjamin appeared to be driving too fast for road conditions. Five persons, including three children, were seriously injured. It was not known whether seat belts were fastened in either vehicle.
Slick roads also contributed to a 2 p.m. car accident near Calverton in which Michael Clinton Hanlon, 24, of 247 Ironshire Sq., Laurel, was fatally injured, Maryland State Police said.
They said Hanlon was traveling west on Old Gunpowder Road near Briggs Chaney Road when his car failed to negotiate a slight curve, crossed the center line and crashed head-on into a dump truck. Police said neither Hanlon nor the truck driver, who was only slightly injured, was wearing seat belts.
Airline traffic "backed up considerably" for the duration of the storm here, a Federal Aviation Administration official said. For one hour during the heavy weather, he said, only 13 flights left busy National Airport, and only five landed.