- The Washington Times - Sunday, July 24, 2005

Lingering power outages from weekend thunderstorms could affect this morning’s rush-hour commute, transportation and utility officials warned yesterday.

D.C. transportation officials said last night that traffic signals were still out on 12th Street and North Capitol Street, and along Michigan, South Dakota and upper Georgia avenues.

Drivers are asked to use extra caution, obey officers and come to complete stops at flashing red lights or temporary stop signs.

Thousands of homes in the District and Maryland were also without electricity for the second consecutive day yesterday, as Pepco crews worked to restore power before temperatures soar above 90 degrees today.

Potomac Electric Power Co. officials said yesterday that they had hoped the 145 crews would restore power to an estimated 8,600 customers by noon today, nearly 60 hours after severe late-night thunderstorms rolled through Montgomery and Prince George’s counties and the District.

“We’ve made significant progress,” Pepco spokeswoman Debbi Jarvis said as crews completed repairs to power lines downed by microbursts about 1:30 a.m. Saturday. Mrs. Jarvis said yesterday that power had been restored to about 46,400 of more than 55,000 customers affected.

About 2,500 Virginia Dominion Power customers were without power. Crews restored power to all customers within hours. Baltimore Gas & Electric Co. did not experience any weather-related outages.

Microbursts are strong downdrafts that last only a few minutes as a storm dissipates, meteorologists say. Their damaging winds typically affect areas about 2 miles wide.

Saturday’s microbursts were accompanied by rapid lightning strikes and thunder. The bursts came without warning and were not detected by radar two hours earlier.

The storms knocked down trees and power lines through the District and Maryland suburbs.

Yellow warning tape hung around fallen trees and stretched across streets where severed power lines dangled to the ground.

“We want to get the power restored,” Mrs. Jarvis said, “but we want to keep everyone safe.”

Tall trees along South Dakota Avenue in Northeast dragged down many power lines, including those that operated traffic signals.

About 50 intersections were without working signals.

Eugene Washington, 44, a program analyst and married father of two who lives at 20th and Perry streets Northeast, was without electricity more than 12 hours Saturday.

“The last big [outage] was from [Tropical Storm Isabel] a couple years ago,” Mr. Washington said.

The loss of electricity yesterday was a nuisance for Arletha Scott, who was more concerned about an old oak tree that fell against her brick house at 4039 South Dakota Ave. NE.

“It was the first time in 50 years or more,” Mrs. Scott said.

Temperatures today are expected to climb into the upper 90s, with a heat index as high as 104 degrees. Temperatures tomorrow are expected to reach 98 degrees.

• Amy Doolittle contributed to this report.

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