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Maryland continues cleanup after Friday’s storm

- The Washington Times - Sunday, June 24, 2012

Bladensburg residents and emergency personnel continued the clean up of their storm-ravaged community on Sunday as area power companies struggled to help dark homes and businesses.

By early evening Sunday, Pepco reported about 500 customers across the District, Montgomery and Prince George's counties were without power, and service might not be restored until Monday in some areas.

According to the Prince George's County Fire and EMS Department, at about 8 p.m. on Friday, a microburst tore along Newton Street and between 52nd and 55th avenues, damaging 15 multi-family homes and one single-family home with its 60 mph winds. Only minor injuries were reported.

The burst is the result of cold air rushing down to earth, hitting the ground in a starburst pattern, explained National Weather Service emergency response meteorologist Ken Widelski.

Despite the extremely high temperatures at the end of the week, Mr. Widelski said the burst wasn't caused by the sweltering heat, but rather, the “storm environment.”

“It all depends on the ingredients,” he said. “Some days the atmosphere can be conducive for tornadoes or microbursts. Some days it's hail.”

Friday's storm did produce hail in the Harford County area as large as quarters, and in Bladensburg, cars were crushed beneath broken roof rafters and tree branches blown down by the strong gusts.

The Prince George's County Hospital Center considered transporting some of its patients to another location when power went out, but staff worked to avoid the move.

Firefighters fielded 235 calls in a four-hour period, compared to the 365 total calls they would normally answer in one day, according to the county's Office of Homeland Security and Office of Emergency Management.

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