- The Washington Times - Monday, April 16, 2007

Thousands of residents in the D.C. area lost power yesterday after a storm brought gale-force winds that severely damaged trees and power lines.

The National Weather Service said a nor’easter, which usually occur in the winter, is to blame for high winds and rain that at times left more than 100,000 customers without power in the District, Maryland and Virginia.

Officials with Potomac Electric Power Co. (Pepco), Baltimore Gas & Electric and Dominion Virginia Power said crews would be working through the night to repair downed power lines.

“When you have 2 or 3 inches of rain followed by high winds, trees come down and bring power lines with them,” said Pepco spokesman Robert Dobkin.

Officials with the three utility companies said they anticipated new outages until the winds subsided.

“It’s a frustrating day because when we’re able to restore power in one area, we turn around and another area has lost power,” said Dominion spokeswoman Le-Ha Anderson.

Nor’easters are storms off the Atlantic coast that produce high winds coming from the northeast and are more common during cold winter weather, according to the Weather Service.

“It’s not to say something along these lines can’t happen,” said Howard Silverman of the National Weather Service in Sterling, Va. “It just doesn’t happen every year.”

High wind and flood warnings were in effect for several parts of the region until 8 p.m. yesterday.

Schools in Fairfax County closed three hours early to ensure the safety of students and teachers in mobile classrooms, which can be damaged by flying debris or wind gusts, said school spokeswoman Mary Shaw.

Three schools in Montgomery County closed early because they lost power.

Several airports along the East Coast adjusted schedules, and some flights were delayed. Amtrak also reported delays and cancellations on certain lines, including the D.C.-Boston route.

D.C. fire department spokesman Alan Etter said firefighters responded to 22 reports of downed power lines and 21 reports of fallen trees as of 1:30 p.m. yesterday, but no serious injuries were reported.

River Road was closed in both directions near the intersection with Interstate 495 yesterday because of downed trees and power lines, according to Maryland State Police officials.

Mr. Silverman said the storm would begin moving out of the area today and winds would be between 15 and 25 mph. He said temperatures would likely return to normal by the weekend.

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