About 1,000 homes in southern Anne Arundel County and Prince George's County remained without power today after an isolated thunderstorm passed through last night, bringing torrential rains and heavy winds. The storm signifies the beginning of the end of the heat wave.
The storm, which knocked out power to 22,000 homes, hit about 8 p.m. at the end of a day in which high temperatures records were set in downtown Baltimore and at Baltimore-Washington International Airport.
The National Weather Service had forecast the possibility of severe thunderstorms with high winds for most of Maryland last night but the major impact was limited to south of Annapolis and areas of Prince George's County.
Baltimore Gas and Electric Co. spokeswoman Peggy Mulloy said the customers who lost power were between Annapolis and Bowie.
Mulloy said torrential rains and lightning that accompanied the storm prevented work crews from immediately responding to the affected areas. Full service was expected to be restored by early afternoon, she said.
BG&E originally said 13,000 customers lost power but number was increased after late to the company storm center in Dorsey.
Anne Arundel County police said no serious damage was caused by the storm, but that there were numerous reports of branches being blown from trees onto power lines and the debris swirling about during wind gusts of more than 40 mph.
Potomac Electric Co. officials say 10,200 customers in northern and eastern Prince George's County and another 800 in Montgomery County also suffered outages.
Today's weather service forecast called for high temperatures of 95 degrees with a chance of afternoon thunderstorms, as the Bermuda high which has been elevating temperatures during the heat wave begins to break up. The high tomorrow is to drop to 90 with highs each day through Sunday in the chilly 80s with less humidity.
Any of this is much in contrast to yesterday when the mercury reached 103 degrees at the Custom House in downtown Baltimore at 2:10 p.m., breaking the old mark of 101 set in 1978.
The airport temperature reached 102 degrees, breaking the old record of 100, also set in 1978.
As hot as it has been, yesterday was the first time all month that the heat has set new records. A 104-degree high Sunday merely tied the record for that day.
Electrical consumption has been growing as the heat wave has lengthened and consumers try to keep cool by running more fans and air conditioners, and running them longer.
The 5,490-megawatt record set last Friday, lasted just four days. The Baltimore Gas and Electric Co. reported its customers demanded and got 5,779 megawatts yesterday at 3 p.m., setting a record. However, it was a record that didn't last long. It was re-broken the next hour and the next and the next, finally peaking at 5,910 megawatts at 6 p.m.
The heat wave and attempts to keep cool have had an impact on the city's older public housing projects.
Residents of some of the older projects have been overloading their buildings' electrical systems and plunging themselves into darkness.
Bill Toohey, spokesman for the Housing Authority of Baltimore City, said more and more residents are installing window air conditioners which, in combination with other appliances, have been overloading the wiring and popping circuit breakers.
There have been at least a dozen outages in city projects, he said.
"When the circuit breakers go, we have to send out professional electricians to see what went wrong, and it can take 2 to 3 hours before we can restore service," he said.
Murphy Homes, which opened in 1963, has had the most problems with overloaded circuits and outages, Toohey said.
The authority runs about three dozen housing projects, with 18,200 units and 38,000 residents.
For those who couldn't stay inside in the air-conditioning, the air over central Maryland was hardly fit to breathe yesterday.
The state Department of the Environment said ozone levels reached unhealthful levels.
The ozone, created from industrial and auto emissions, sunlight and heat, reached 102 parts per billion in the Baltimore metropolitan area.
It was 126at a state air monitoring station in Millington, in Kent County, probably after wafting across the bayfrom the Baltimore and Washington metropolitan areas.
It was the 12th day this year that air quality in the state reached unhealthful levels, compared to 11 times all of last year.
The five-day-old ban on daytime outdoor water use remain in force.
The ban applies to anyone on the city water system, including bill-payers in Baltimore, Baltimore County, and parts of Anne Arundel and Howard counties.
Baltimore delivers 300 million gallons to customers on a normal July day. The ban was imposed after demand for water climbed to 388 million gallons Friday.
By Monday, demand was down to 340 million gallons, said public works spokesman Jim Kapplin. "So it's obviously working," he said.