- The Washington Times - Thursday, November 13, 2003

Powerful, chilly winds blew through the Midwest and into the metropolitan area yesterday, causing power outages, traffic accidents and downed trees, leaving at least two persons seriously injured.

The winds caused a large tree and power lines to fall, striking Alison Baker, 14, in the head as she waited for a school bus in front of her Sterling, Va., home at about 8:20 yesterday morning, said Kraig Troxell, spokesman for the Loudoun County Sheriff’s Office.

Mr. Troxell said a neighbor who is a paramedic helped stop the bleeding until a rescue squad arrived and airlifted the teenager from her home in the 100 block of Lakeland Drive to Children’s Hospital in the District. The Dominion High School student sustained a skull fracture and burns, but is recovering, hospital officials said last night.

A 30-year-old man was hit by a falling tree branch while walking at the River Creek Golf Course near Leesburg, Va. He was taken to Inova Fairfax Hospital, where he was in serious condition, Loudoun County authorities said.

The National Weather Service issued a wind advisory for most of the region through last night, urging residents to drive carefully and to tie down loose items around their homes.

Meteorologists said a cold front meeting warmer air caused sustained winds of 30 to 40 mph, with gusts of nearly 70 mph. The high winds wreaked havoc throughout the region, ripping roofs from buildings, uprooting trees and downing power lines.

More than 62,000 customers were without power in Baltimore and in Prince George’s, Montgomery, Howard, Harford and Anne Arundel counties yesterday afternoon, Baltimore Gas & Electric officials said.

Potomac Electric Power Co. reported about 58,000 outages, mostly in Prince George’s and Montgomery counties, while Virginia Dominion had 47,000 reported outages, more than 37,000 of them in Northern Virginia.

Montgomery County fire officials reported receiving about 80 calls about downed trees and power lines in about five hours — four times the normal volume. No serious injuries were reported.

A gas line was ignited by sparks from downed power lines in the 9100 block of Fairview Road in Silver Spring. There was a basement fire in one home, and Washington Gas shut off the gas service for two others.

There were also no serious injuries in Prince George’s County, where officials reported 450 emergency calls before 5 p.m. The county’s 911 center usually handles about 300 calls a day.

Twenty schools in Prince George’s that lost power were closed yesterday and officials will announce today whether any of those schools will remain closed.

Investigators believe the weather was responsible for the collapse of a 200-foot section of a three-story wall around a garden center at a Lowe’s home improvement store in Bowie. The collapse forced closure of the building at Heritage Drive and Route 197, but no one was hurt.

In the District, two persons were slightly injured when a portion of the roof blew off a home in Southeast, fire department spokesman Alan Etter said. And a crane being used for construction of the new Woodrow Wilson Bridge blew over onto a barge on the Potomac River, fire officials said. No one was injured.

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