The intense thunderstorms that crashed and flashed across the Washington area Monday night seemed more spectacular than destructive, and people who watched them seemed content to settle for the sights and sounds.
“It was beautiful,” said Leah Kasowitz, who watched from her balcony in Southwest Washington, describing the event as a “perfect spring storm.”
A few thousand homes and businesses lost electricity for a time. Based on utility company reports, there were about 3,000 outages in Northern Virginia.
Winds picked up. Rain poured down. A 40-mph gust was clocked at Reagan National Airport. A house fire in North Laurel was attributed to lightning by the Howard County fire department.
But for many, on balconies or behind windows, the storms were an explosive release of pent-up atmospheric energy that seemed the evening’s main attraction.
Skies turned black as the storms approached, but bursts of lightning occurring as often as every four or five seconds illuminated the clouds from within. From time to time, lightning ripped and streaked over jagged pathways toward the ground.
In Silver Spring, Md., Brandon M. Kopp, who had been trying for several years to take a good photo of cloud-to-ground lightning, got one Monday night. “I’m happy about that,” he said.
Of the evening’s turbulence, in general, he said, “It was pretty good, as far as storms go.”
There was little doubt that it was the most powerful storm system of its kind in the 110 days of 2015, and it appeared to be a prelude to the kind of storminess that often closes summer evenings in the region.
It was “exciting and amazing,” said Stephanie Bahr, who scooped up a handful of hailstones, all frozen together, from her back porch in the Annandale, Va., area. She added that it made her mindful of “earth’s wonders.”