- The Washington Times - Wednesday, June 4, 2008

ANNANDALE (AP) - Severe weather rolled through the mid-Atlantic region today, downing power lines and trees and killing at least one person, authorities said.

A woman was killed in the Annandale area when a tree fell on top of a vehicle, Fairfax County fire department spokesman Lt. Raul Castillo said. There was little damage to homes, trees or property in the area, except for the single tree that fell, knocking down power lines along the road.

In a Falls Church neighborhood, Michael Gesami said a felled tree crashed through the roof of his two-story house like a meat cleaver.

“I thought it was really loud thunder,” Gesami, 20. “It crashed right through.”

In Chesapeake Beach, Md., Mayor Gerald Donovan said one person was injured after a tornado apparently touched down in the area and ripped the roofs and siding off several homes.

“It scared a lot of people in our town,” Donovan told WRC-TV. “We’re all very grateful more damage wasn’t done.”

The National Weather Service in Sterling, Va., had not confirmed whether any tornadoes touched down during the violent weather, said meteorologist Brandon Peloquin. He said teams would likely go out later to assess the weather damage. The storms were part of the same weather system that moved through the Ohio Valley earlier today, he said.

In Northern Virginia, wind damage was reported across Loudoun County including downed trees across roadways, said county sheriff’s spokesman Kraig Troxell.

“(We have) a couple reports of (funnel cloud) sightings but no confirmation of a touchdown,” Troxell said.

In Maryland, Anne Arundel County fire officials said a tornado touched down about 3:30 p.m., but there were no early reports of damage or injuries.

Two people were trapped at a construction site near Baltimore when a crane collapsed as the storms rolled through, but they were not seriously injured. High winds were blamed for the collapse.

Hundreds of thousands of people lost power throughout Maryland, Virginia and the Washington area.

In western Maryland, 15 homes were severely damaged in Washington County, including one that collapsed. More than 200 trees fell, blocking numerous roads, said Katie Leahan, spokeswoman for the Maryland Emergency Management Agency.

In Dorchester County, Md., a tree fell on a mobile home during the storm but caused no injuries. Emergency Management Director Wayne Robinson said a funnel cloud was spotted in the Eastern Shore county, but the cloud did not touch ground.

No deaths were reported in Maryland, but Leahan said four people doing work on the roof of a Chesapeake Beach restaurant were injured.

Metro train service in Northern Virginia was disrupted for several hours just ahead of the afternoon commute because of downed trees near the tracks.

Metro spokeswoman Candace Smith said wires fell on both tracks between the East Falls Church and West Falls Church stations. Trains couldn’t operate between the two stations. Shuttle buses were brought in to help people get home, but hundreds were forced to wait as crowds overwhelmed the buses.

It took commuter Rosemary Hidalgo more than 3 1/2 hours to go from the Mall in Washington to her home in Northern Virginia. She had to take a Metro train and a bus to get to her car in a commuter parking lot before she could drive home.

“It’s just sad that we’re not better prepared,” she said. “It was just a little power outage.”

Commuter train service in Maryland and Virginia also was stopped because of fallen trees. Officials urged riders to find another way home.

Parents lined up outside schools in Fairfax County to pick up their children after school officials decided not to put them on buses in the midst of the storm.

Elsewhere today, flash flood warnings were posted for parts of Indiana, where the weather service said as much as 5 inches of rain had fallen in 24 hours and an additional 1.5 inches of rain was possible.

One tornado battered Moscow, Ind., yesterday, a community of about 80 residents about 35 miles southeast of Indianapolis. It destroyed one house, damaged four or five others and knocked down trees and utility lines, officials said. State officials said another house was destroyed in Greene County, and aerial coverage showed some rural farm houses had been leveled.

One woman was in critical condition after being impaled in the upper chest by a 3-inch-diameter tree limb, said Charles Smith, chief of the Posey Township Volunteer Fire Department. He helped rescue her from storm debris.

“Her house was gone, along the side of the river bank. There’s nothing left of it,” he said. “She didn’t talk, but she was moaning. I just hope she makes it.”

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Associated Press writer Deanna Martin in Moscow, Ind., Stephen Manning in Washington and Sarah Karush in Falls Church, Va., contributed to this report.

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