- The Washington Times - Thursday, June 13, 2013

A fast-moving storm system that affected much of the eastern United States buffeted the D.C. area with rain and wind Thursday, leaving behind downed trees, thousands of power outages and unofficial reports of at least three tornadoes touching down in Maryland.

No one appeared to have been seriously injured in the D.C. area as a result of the storms, which struck in the morning and mid-afternoon, although isolated damage was reported. By the time severe weather warnings were lifted at about 4:30 p.m., the affected area was widespread but the dire conditions forecast had not materialized.

“The fact is, these storms that developed today affected us pretty much from Loudoun County to Montgomery County and areas south and east to the Bay,” Kevin Witt, meteorologist with the National Weather Service, said Thursday. He predicted better conditions for Friday, which is expected to be partly sunny, with a high near 77.

“From a general forecast standpoint, it will be a much quieter day, breezier, drier,” he said.

Mr. Witt said it would take time before officials could confirm reports that a tornado touched down before 4 p.m. in Colesville in Montgomery County. Maryland Emergency Management Agency officials said other tornadoes were reported near Laurel in Prince George’s County and Snow Hill in Worcester County on the Eastern Shore.

At 4:30 p.m., Pepco reported 39,000 power outages in Montgomery County. Dominion Virginia Power reported 23,000 outages in Northern Virginia. The outage numbers quickly declined as conditions improved into the evening.

The Rockville campus of Montgomery College closed because of downed trees and power lines, and a home in west Laurel was damaged after a tree fell on it. Several fallen trees in the District disrupted afternoon traffic in Northwest.

The Bay Bridge, which was closed all lanes in both directions during the storm, was reopened for the evening commute, and area airports operated at up to a two-hour delay after the system moved through.

Farther south, Richmond police said an uprooted tree fell on a boy and a man at Maymont Park shortly before 4 p.m. Media outlets reported the boy, who was under 10 years old, was killed while the man was taken to a hospital.

The afternoon storm came hours after an initial bout of heavy rain Thursday morning. The morning storm, which approached the area from the Midwest, did not swell into a derecho as some had feared but generated severe weather across a wide area.

Large hail was reported in Maryland’s Carroll County and in Virginia’s Fauquier County, with a water spout witnessed east of Annapolis and trees down in Frederick County.

Reports out of Cecil County said a 19-year-old woman working at Plumpton Park Zoo was struck by lighting.

Lightning from a fast-moving storm might have sparked a fire that killed a western Pennsylvania man early Thursday, the state fire marshal said. The fire happened in New Brighton, about 25 miles northwest of Pittsburgh.

Still, overall, the storms appeared to have caused less wind damage than was feared, said Bill Bunting of the National Weather Service’s Storm Prediction Center in Norman, Okla. Whether they were as bad as anticipated “depends on where you live,” he said.

He said thunderstorms took longer than expected to merge into a large line that could cause widespread damage. The merger also happened farther east than expected, which limited the potential for widespread damage in Illinois and Indiana, though those states still had pockets of severe weather.

Even before merging, the individual storms remained powerful, Mr. Bunting said.

Besides reports of damaging winds and preliminary tornado sightings, the weather service has received reports of hail at least an inch in diameter in locations stretching from southeast Minnesota to Virginia, he said.

Play was suspended at the U.S. Open at Merion Golf Club outside Philadelphia less than two hours after the start of the first round and resumed about three hours later.

In northern New York, rain sent rivers and streams over their banks, leading to evacuations and road closures.

Overnight, thunderstorms that punched through northern Illinois caused significant wind damage, mainly in rural areas west and south of Chicago. The city was largely spared.

This article is based in part on wire service reports.

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