The Washington Post

High winds knock out power across the D.C. region, some roads closed

The U.S. Capitol dome briefly went dark Tuesday night as intense winds swept the area. (Craig Hudson/For The Washington Post)

Thousands of customers across the Washington area awoke Thursday with no electricity, after mighty gusts of winds knocked down power lines.

Widespread outages were reported in Northern Virginia, where about 7,300 customers in Northern Virginia were without power as of 5:30 a.m. About 2,300 customers in Montgomery County , 352 customers in Prince George’s County and 47 customers in the District were without power.

Utility companies began reporting outages in the Maryland and Virginia suburbs around 8 p.m. Wednesday night.

On Wednesday night, the Capitol Dome went dark briefly. The lights at the Capitol came on shortly before 9 p.m., after about 30 minutes in which it appeared that most of the building’s electricity had failed.

The Washington Post’s Capital Weather Gang said temperatures Thursday are expected to range in the 20s and 30s with “nasty wind chills.” Winds from the northwest are expected to hit between 20 and 30 miles per hour and could occasionally get as high as 40 in the early morning.

The weather also caused troubles on roadways in Thursday’s morning commute. In Laurel, Route 198 was closed in both directions between Van Dusen and 11th Street because of a downed power pole. Part of Route 7 in Leesburg near Market Street was closed for the same reason. lines. And in Montgomery, police were directing traffic at New Hampshire and Route 108 and New Hampshire and Route 198 because of power outages at stop lights.

Restrictions were put in place Thursday for traveling on the Bay Bridge. The speed limit was reduced to 40 miles per hour for vehicles and no empty tractor trailers or box trucks were allowed on the bridge.

Ronald Reagan Washington Airport had a ground stop Wednesday night because of the weather but that was lifted Thursday morning.

On Wednesday night, U.S. Capitol Police reported random outages on the east and west fronts of the Capitol grounds, said Lt. Kimberly Schneider, a spokeswoman. Members of the police force were checking the grounds for damage “while maintaining our security posture,” she said.

The Office of the Architect of the Capitol said high winds caused electrical power surges at the Capitol starting at about 8:30 p.m., said Matt Guilfoyle, a spokesman. Officials made repairs and power was restored about 9 p.m., he said.

High winds blew branches and limbs onto power lines in most cases, but the utility had staffed repair crews to deal with the outages.

“Crews are working quickly, but they have to work safely,” said Pepco spokesman Bob Hainey.

See the number of power outages in Northern Virginia, Montgomery County, Prince George's County and the District.

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Dana Hedgpeth is a Post reporter, working the early morning, reporting on traffic, crime and other local issues.
Clarence Williams is the night police reporter for The Washington Post and has spent the better part of 13 years standing next to crime scene tape, riding in police cars or waking officials in the middle of night to gather information about breaking news in and around Washington.

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