Thousands lose power in heavy thunderstorm Man killed amid wind, lightning

May 13, 1993|By Michael James | Michael James,Staff Writer Staff writer Richard Irwin contributed to this article.

Thousands of homes remained without power today after a thunderstorm brought 5,000 lightning strikes and wind gusts of more than 60 mph to the area yesterday. A 39-year-old man who was visiting his wife's grave in the city was struck and killed by lightning.

Killed shortly before 7 p.m. was Bobby J. Lowe of the 4400 block xTC of Alan Drive in Arbutus. Mr. Lowe ran for shelter under a tree at Loudon Park Cemetery in Southwest Baltimore with his 8-year-old son, said Sam Ringgold, a police spokesman.

A lightning bolt struck the tree -- splitting it down the middle -- and hit Mr. Lowe, "killing him within moments," Mr. Ringgold said.

The boy, whose name was not available, was not injured and ran to the cemetery office to get help, and police were notified. The boy was placed with an aunt, Mr. Ringgold said. Mr. Lowe was pronounced dead at the scene, he said.

Peggy Mulloy, a Baltimore Gas and Electric Co. spokeswoman, said about 5,000 lightning strikes were recorded in the Baltimore area, many of which struck trees, power lines and transformers.

She said about 80,000 homes were left without power at the peak of the storm. All but 2,100 customers, 1,650 in Anne Arundel County, had their power restored by midmornimg today.The remainder were expected to be restored later today.

Ms. Mulloy said that since the outages were not expected to last more than 24 hours, no dry ice would be given out to protect perishables.

Most of the power outages -- 33,365 -- occurred in Anne Arundel County, Ms. Mulloy said.

In Baltimore County, 23,650 homes lost power; in Howard County, 7,144; the city, 10,016; Carroll County, 5,018; and Harford County, 806.

Potomac Edison Power Co. officials reported 300 to 400 customers lost power in Frederick County, but a spokesman for the utility said the electricity was restored by 2:30 a.m. today.

Potomac Electric Power Co. reported outages affecting 31,000 customers in Montgomery and Prince George's counties.

By 5 a.m. today, said spokeswoman Debra Leak, 5,100 were still without power in Prince George's County, and 2,500 were without electricity in Montgomery County. She said that of the 71,000 customers who lost power in the Washington area, all but 11,600 were still without power by 5 a.m. today.

In other incidents:

* In Washington, Sharon Percy Rockefeller, a public broadcasting executive and wife of Sen. Jay Rockefeller, D-W.Va., was being held overnight in a Washington hospital after a car in which she was a passenger was struck by a tree uprooted during the storm.

* In Talbot County, two people were rescued -- and one treated for hypothermia -- after small sailboats they were in capsized on Miles River, said St. Michaels Fire Chief John Watts. The two boats were among 15

competing in a regatta.

* In Queen Anne's County, wind ripped the roofs from three condominiums at Kangaroo Beach on Thompson Creek, officials said. No one was injured, but the homes and their contents were damaged.

* In Delaware, Andrew Lee Allen, 25, was killed when he was struck and killed by lightning while standing in the front yard of his home three miles west of Seaford, state police said. He died at Nanticoke Memorial Hospital at 9:35 p.m.

The violent storms were caused by a cold front bumping into hot, humid air that had been stalled in the region for a week, said Bob Melrose, a National Weather Service forecaster at Baltimore-Washington International Airport.

The weather service measured 1.27 inches of rain at BWI.

"As the cold front moved through the area, it just started cooling down," Mr. Melrose said, adding that the mercury in Baltimore fell from 84 degrees at 5 p.m. to 64 degrees two hours later.

In Washington, scaffolding left over from last weekend's airlift of the Freedom statue from the Capitol dome was tossed to the ground, including 2-inch thick planks, according to U.S. Capitol spokesman Dan Nichols.

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