- The Washington Times - Sunday, July 24, 2005

A severe thunderstorm that rattled the region early yesterday morning knocked down trees and power lines, caused property damage and left about 50,000 residents of the District and Maryland without power.

The storm entered the region from the north at about 1:30 a.m., with wind gusts of at least 45 mph, said Roger Smith, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Sterling, Va.

“This storm formed very quickly and produced some very strong winds as it moved across Montgomery County, then through the District and into Prince George’s County,” he said.

The Potomac Electric Power Co. reported “intense, localized” damage in Prince George’s County and from southern Montgomery County into the District along the Georgia Avenue corridor.

As of last night, the company reported on its Web site that about 29,000 customers remained without electricity in the District and Montgomery and Prince George’s counties. Officials said power was expected to be restored within 24 hours, but some customers might have to wait until tomorrow.

Company spokesman Bob Dobkin said extra workers were being called in from Maryland’s Eastern Shore.

Baltimore Gas and Electric Co. and Dominion Power Co. in Virginia each reported about 200 outages as of 4 p.m.

Few residents in the District’s upper Northwest and upper Northeast neighborhoods, it seemed, slept through the storm — as the pinging of hail, loud cracks of lightning and booming thunder had people turning on their lights to watch and check for damage.

Residents throughout the region reported debris and scattered branches from more than 200 uprooted trees.

Signs of the unexpected storm were everywhere in the region, including a massive tree that fell across Seventh Street NW near Florida Avenue and patches of leaves of snapped branches that covered many streets and lawns.

The District’s Emergency Management Agency reported no injuries.

However, Bill Rice, spokesman for the District’s Department of Transportation, said the District alone received more than 100 calls about trees, including about six for trees on houses or cars. He also said about 80 traffic lights throughout the District were out or flashing at the height of the storm.

The National Weather Service’s Mr. Smith said forecasters had predicted a 30 percent chance of storms about four or five hours before they hit.

He said the storm was one of many last week that moved down from Pennsylvania.

“It was comparable to some [of the other] storms, but it seems, because of the path it took, it recorded more damage,” he said.

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