Also, for the latest peak wind gusts reported today, see this link: National Weather Service wind reports
5:30 p.m.: Damage reports pouring in after wind burst
The narrow, but intense burst of winds that swept through the region between about 4 and 5:30 p.m. has exited to the east and weakened. It produced widespread gusts of 55 to 60 mph (Reagan National Airport clocked a 62 mph gust and Dulles 60 mph), with isolated higher readings, including a 71 mph gust in Charles Town, W. Va.
The burst downed trees and wires in parts of the region, and caused some patchy power outages. PowerOutage.Us reports about 25,000 customers without power in Maryland and 40,000 in the dark in Virginia.
Here is a sample of the damage reports which have come in to the National Weather Service:
- Tree down on house on Pyle Road in Gaithersburg
- Tree down on MD-108 blocking southbound lanes in Laytonsville
- Metal roof blown off townhouse in Gaithersburg (see picture below)
- Two trees blew into telephone wires, bringing down a telephone pole in Annandale
- Tree down on house on Walter Street in District
5:15 p.m.: Wind burst shifts east of the Beltway, warning issued from eastern Prince George’s County to the Chesapeake Bay; Gust of 58 mph clocked at Reagan National Airport
This line of damaging winds, with a history of producing gusts of 55 to 60-plus mph (including 58 mph at Reagan National and 60 mph at Dulles) and downed trees and wires, is surging east toward the Chesapeake Bay.
A severe thunderstorm warning is in effect for the eastern and southeastern part of our region from Annapolis to La Plata. As noted previously, there is little rain and no thunder associated with this wind event. But the National Weather Service has issued a thunderstorm warning to alert people of the dangerous wind hazard.
5 p.m.: Wall of damaging winds blasting through Interstate 95 corridor, reports of downed trees and wires
An intense, narrow line of strong winds is sweeping across the heart of the metro region, its leading edge crossing I-95 and headed toward the east side of the Beltway.
Radar has estimated associated wind gusts of 50 to 65 mph. Dulles Airport clocked a gust to 60 mph and Gaithersburg 59 mph as the wind burst passed through. The Montgomery County Office of Emergency Management reports several trees and wires down in Gaithersburg, Silver Spring and Bethesda
Here are some photos and eyewitness reports:
4:40 p.m.: Warning for damaging winds in immediate D.C. area until 5:15 p.m.
While no thunder is present, a burst of dangerous winds has prompted a severe thunderstorm warning for the immediate D.C. area. Only very brief showers are expected but the winds will be intense. See the previous update about the damaging gusts this wall of winds has generated.
Leesburg recently clocked a gust of 60 mph.
4:30 p.m.: Damaging winds rapidly approaching western part of region
Although the showers associated with a squall line racing east are dissipating, the winds are fierce and rapidly closing in on the immediate area. They’re currently roaring through Leesburg and should reach western Fairfax County and western Montgomery County in the next 15 minute and move inside the Beltway by 5 p.m.
This narrow line of strong winds has a history of producing dangerous wind gusts and damage, including a 71 mph gust in Charles Town, W. Va. and gusts to 58 to 60 mph in Martinsburg and Hagerstown. A tree came down near Thurmont, Md.
While there is a little rain and no thunder associated with this wall of wind, the Weather Service has issued a severe thunderstorm warning for our northern and western suburbs because of the wind hazard. Stay inside.
4:05 p.m.: Narrow squall line with potential 50-plus mph wind gusts near Interstate 81 to pass through area in next 90 minutes
Weather radar shows a squall line, or narrow zone of heavy showers with strong winds, along the Interstate 81 corridor from just south of Hagerstown through Winchester to just west of Front Royal zipping eastward. Hagerstown and Martinsburg have both clocked recent wind gusts around 58 to 59 mph.
This squall line is moving east at around 50 mph and could reach the Beltway around 5 p.m., if it holds together. Any rain would be brief but it may unleash some very strong gusts over 50 mph. Stay inside if you can.
3:25 p.m.: “People should treat this [wind event] like a severe thunderstorm,” Weather Service warns
In its afternoon forecast discussion the National Weather Service urged caution due to this ongoing high wind event.
As a storm offshore New England driving the wind strengthens and high pressure builds in from the northwest, another surge of wind is possible this evening. Models suggest a possible burst between 5 and 10 p.m. or so
“Widespread W/NW wind gusts of 45 to 60 mph are being observed and should persist into the evening,” the Weather Service wrote.
Model forecasts suggest that it may take until the pre-sunrise hours on Saturday for winds to meaningfully abate.
2:55 p.m.: Reports of damaging winds continue, as gusts persistently top 40 mph
Throughout the early afternoon hours, wind gusts have topped 40 mph and occasionally neared 50 mph. The National Weather Service continues to receive reports of trees blowing down, including these incidents:
- At 2:03 p.m., tree down on Stark Place in Annandale
- At 1:52 p.m., tree down on Rt. 50 near exit 7A for the Interstate 95 and the Beltway in Prince George’s County
- At 1:32 p.m., tree down near the intersection of Md-410 and Md-450 in New Carrollton
- At 1:15 p.m., tree down on Little Falls Parkway in Bethesda
- At 12:56 p.m., tree down on Garfield Street in the Northwest Washington, east of Foxhall Road
The strongest winds, topping 55 mph, have focused toward the mountains and in northern Maryland. Through 2:55 p.m., here are some of the peak gusts reported to the Weather Service:
12:10 p.m.: Wind gusts reach 50 mph with multiple reports of downed trees, three injuries in Montgomery County
In the last hour, winds have rapidly increased, with some gusts hitting 50 mph. Reagan National Airport gusted to 51 mph and Catholic University 48 mph.
The National Weather Service has received multiple reports of downed trees around the region. A tree that toppled on the Outer Loop of the Beltway after Interstate 270 reportedly caused an accident with three injuries.
In west central Virginia, west of Harrisonburg, a tree that fell on a vehicle caused a fatality.
10:20 a.m.: High wind warning expanded to cover District and Fairfax, Montgomery and Prince George’s counties
The National Weather Service has upgraded the wind advisory, previously in effect for the District and immediately surrounding counties, to a high wind warning. This means it sees the potential for wind gusts as high as 60 mph. Winds this intense may be isolated, but gusts of 40 to 50 mph should be fairly widespread.
This will be a long duration wind event, with gusts over 40 mph possible for between 12 and 18 hours, beginning around noon Friday and continuing into the predawn hours on Saturday. Models indicate the strongest gusts may occur between the late afternoon and around midnight.
Downed trees and power outages are possible given these winds, with impacts generally increasing as you head toward the northern Maryland the Delmarva, where projected gusts are highest.
In areas south of Fairfax County, where a wind advisory is in effect, peak gusts will be somewhat less, but could still reach 45 to 55 mph.
As of 10 a.m., gusts in the metro region were already topping 30 mph, with Reagan National and Dulles clocking gusts of 32 and 39 mph.
Original forecast from 5 a.m.
Today’s daily digit
A somewhat subjective rating of the day’s weather, on a scale of 0 to 10.
5/10: Very windy but at least skies are mostly sunny to go with April-like temperatures. Maybe slightly below-average.
- Today: High winds. Late shower? Highs: Upper 60s to low 70s.
- Tonight: Clear. Still windy. Lows: Around 40 to mid-40s.
- Tomorrow: Sunny, less breeze. Highs: 64-71.
- Sunday: Mostly sunny. Highs: Mid-80s.
Forecast in detail
We may have high winds through tonight, and cooler early-April-like temperatures through tomorrow. Despite these less than ideal weather, we expect the cicadas to continue popping out of the ground, especially as we get toward mid-May. Early season heat quickly returns, as we head deep into the 80s Sunday.
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Today (Friday): Very windy, with afternoon westerly and northwesterly winds possibly gusting near the 50 mph range. Note that power outages are possible, especially north of D.C. and in elevated areas. Sunshine tries to dominate, but clouds may develop at times, especially late afternoon. A few showers or spits of brief raindrops are possible heading into evening, too. High temperatures top out in the upper 60s to low 70s. Confidence: Medium-High
Tonight: Northwest wind gusts may still near 50 mph at times into the evening, before winds start to wane late night. Cold air is moving in on the wind’s coattails. Low temperatures bottom out around 40 degrees to mid-40s downtown, with wind chills at least a few degrees below that. Skies should stay mostly clear. Confidence: Medium-High
Tomorrow (Saturday): Northwest wind gusts slowly calm and generally try to stay below 25 mph, perhaps giving us a passable Nice Day. Sunshine should be prominent, so wear that sunscreen under this August-strength sun! High temperatures should reach at least the mid-60s, to around 70 degrees. Confidence: Medium-High
Tomorrow night: A few clouds may arrive before sunrise, but otherwise it’s clear. Light breezes subtly shift to a warmer, southwesterly direction, preventing temperatures from dipping much, perhaps only the low to mid-50s. Confidence: Medium
A look ahead
Sunday: With southwesterly breezes continuing throughout the day, the atmosphere begins to heat us up again. We may even blast through the ceiling of Nice Day temperature criteria, with high temperatures near or above 85 degrees. With our topsoil fairly dry, the ground may heat very quickly and effectively under mostly sunny skies. Clouds slowly creep in. Confidence: Medium-High
Sunday night: Clouds continue to increase. We may see a sprinkle near dawn. Temperatures may only be able to dip into the low to mid-60s. If up early before sunrise and skies are (hopefully) clear enough, look for the half-moon, Saturn and Jupiter to roughly be in a line. Confidence: Medium
Showers and storms are possible Monday and Tuesday with breezes and mugginess possible, too. As we get closer, we should see a more consistent trend in the weather data. This would raise confidence in the days’ details, such as just how windy, muggy or wet it may get. Mostly cloudy skies may hang around much of the time. High temperatures Monday aim for around the 80-degree mark and Tuesday eyes the 90-degree mark. Cloudier and rainier conditions may lower this temperature forecast. Confidence: Low-Medium