Fewer than 400 homes in southern Anne Arundel County remained without power at mid-morning today after an isolated thunderstorm passed through last night, bringing torrential rains, lightning and 40 mph winds. The storm cut power to 22,000 customers at its peak, but signaled the beginning of the end of the region's heat wave.
While the weather front eased temperatures and humidity in the Baltimore region, the rains it brought passed mostly south of the area's parched lawns and gardens. BWI recorded only a trace of rain.
The front is bringing an end to a heat wave that has brought record temperatures, severe drought conditions and increased demand for electricity.
The storm, which struck about 8 p.m., climaxed a day in which high temperature records of 103 degrees and 102 degrees were set in downtown Baltimore and at Baltimore-Washington International Airport, respectively.
Baltimore Gas and Electric Co. spokeswoman Peggy Mulloy said full service was expected to be restored in Arundel by noon.
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 80s with less humidity.
The 103-degree high yesterday in downtown Baltimore broke the old mark of 101 set in 1978. It reached 102 degrees at BWI, breaking the old record of 100, also set in 1978.
Electrical consumption has been growing as the heat wave has been growing as the heat wave has lengthened and consumers run their fans and air conditioners longer.
The 5,490-megawatt record set last Friday, lasted just four days. BG&E customers broke demand records hourly yesterday from 3 p.m. until 6 p.m., when consumption peaked at a new record 5,910 megawatts.
Residents struggling to keep cool in some of Baltimore's older public housing projects have been overloading their buildings' electrical systems, triggering outages.
Bill Toohey, spokesman for the Housing Authority of Baltimore City, urged residents not to run window air conditioners in combination with other appliances. That habit has been overloading the wiring and popping circuit breakers.
HTC There have been at least a dozen outages in city projects, with the most problems at Murphy Homes in West Baltimore.
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 the federal safety standard of 120 parts per billion.
The ozone, created from industrial and auto emissions, sunlight and heat, reached 126 parts per billion at a state air monitoring station in Millington, in Kent County, probably after wafting across the bay from 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 remains in force.
The ban applies to anyone on the city water system, including billpayers 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.
Meanwhile, Harford County officials asked the county's 23,000 water system customers to take additional conservation measures because low water on the Susquehanna has forced the temporary shutdown of a water treatment plant in Havre de Grace.
If it gets hot enough, today will mark the 10th consecutive day of 90-degree-plus weather in downtown Baltimore, and the ninth such day at BWI. Yesterday, at 103 degrees, was the fourth day this year with highg of 100 or more downtown. It reached 100 degrees on June 16 and 30, and 104 on July 21.