Victims of Sunday battering mourned as new storms strike Yesterday's damage mostly in Arundel

July 09, 1991|By Brian Sullam

While Marylanders cleaned up from a series of fierce thunderstorms blamed for six deaths Sunday afternoon, another line of squalls passed through the state yesterday -- uprooting trees, shattering skylights, knocking down signs and causing scattered power outages.

Most of the damage yesterday was limited to the Annapolis area. The afternoon's short but intense storms did considerably less damage than the violent thunderstorms that pounded the Baltimore area and the Eastern Shore Sunday.

The storms passed through Annapolis between 2:30 p.m. and 3:30 p.m. yesterday. About 8,700 customers in the Bestgate area lost power, traffic lights along West Street were knocked out and there was a moment when lights flickered at the State House.

At the Annapolis Mall, strong winds popped five skylights, whipped open the mall's heavy entrance doors and blew rain into the enclosed mall.

"It was the most exciting trip I have ever made to Annapolis Mall," said one shopper, who was purchasing some shoes when the storm hit.

"The wind started blowing and there was water coming through the skylights."

Jack Little, mall operations supervisor, said the shopping center lost electrical power shortly after the storm hit. Some stores closed until power was restored, but Mr. Little said the storm did not cause any damage to the stores.

Panels in five skylights were broken and rain poured into the mall's central atrium. Most of the damage was repaired by early yesterday evening.

In addition, some stores across the street from Annapolis Mall lost their signs. "Part of High's sign ended up in our parking lot," Mr. Little said.

Yesterday's line of thunderstorms stretched from Carroll County Northern Virginia. The storms passed through Maryland in a southeasterly direction, moving at 25 to 30 mph as they went through Anne Arundel County.

The National Weather Service reported hail in Talbot County and uprooted trees in Hurlock, in Dorchester County.

Gusts as strong as 55 to 60 mph were measured in Northern Virginia, and Kenneth W. Shaver, a forecaster with the weather service at Baltimore-Washington International Airport, said that there were indications that there were even stronger gusts in Annapolis.

"It usually takes winds of at least 50 miles a hour to topple trees," he said.

Anne Arundel highway crews spent the afternoon and early evening clearing roads of uprooted trees and fallen branches.

About 15 to 20 trees were uprooted, according to Timothy M. Lester, a superintendent with the highway department. Most of the damage occurred in the Crownsville area and outside Annapolis, he said.

He did not receive any reports of trees falling on houses.

"We were lucky," Mr. Lester said. "If the ground had been wet, we would have a lot more trees to clean up."

Sunday's fierce thunderstorms were caused by a trough of high-level cold air that descended above Frederick County and then collided with the hot, moist, unstable air that blanketed the metropolitan area, weather forecasters said.

"What happens is that these upper atmosphere disturbances act as triggers when they meet the hot unstable air," said Mr. Shaver.

The storms Sunday were blamed for the deaths of six people: three children who were killed in an automobile accident in Carroll County, a Bowleys Quarters couple killed by lightning near Brier Point in southeastern Baltimore County, and a Preston man killed in a boating accident in Dorchester County.

Yesterday's storms differed from Sunday's in that they were on the leading edge of a cold front that was moving into the Maryland area from the Midwest.

Mr. Shaver said the cold front, which brought in cooler and drier air, is likely to give only temporary relief from the sweltering temperatures of recent weeks. By tomorrow the hot and humid weather is expected to return.

Baltimore Gas and Electric Co. crews were still repairing damaged power lines 24 hours after Sunday's devastating storm. Most of BG&E's 87,000 customers who lost power Sunday had their service restored by yesterday morning, said Peggy Mulloy, a spokeswoman for the utility.

By early evening, Ms. Mulloy said, power still had not been restored to about 4,500 customers in northern Baltimore County and Harford County.

BG&E opened two dry ice distribution centers -- one at the Ruhl National Guard Armory on York Road and the Bel Air American Legion lodge on Hickory Avenue -- to help people with refrigerators and freezers full of thawing food.

The centers would remain open until the supply of dry ice was exhausted, Ms. Mulloy said.

Meanwhile, Chesapeake and Potomac Telephone Co. had about times the number of "trouble" calls it normally would have, according to Alvin H. Burman III, a C&P spokesman.

He said none of the company's major lines were cut and there were no major outages.

Mr. Burman said most of the phone crews were working to restore service to customers whose phone lines were broken by falling tree limbs.

"They are scattered all over and we have every available technician working them," he said.

Baltimore Sun Articles
Please note the green-lined linked article text has been applied commercially without any involvement from our newsroom editors, reporters or any other editorial staff.