Yesterday's thunderstorms packed lightning and locally heavy rains that triggered power outages and minor street flooding across the region and contributed to a head-on crash and a barn fire in Carroll County.
But they also ushered in a batch of cooler, drier air that should allow Marylanders to switch off their air conditioners and open windows.
Lower humidity, sun and high temperatures in the upper 70s were forecast through Wednesday, according to National Weather Service forecaster Ken Shaver at Baltimore-Washington International Airport. Overnight lows will be in the upper 50s to low 60s.
Thursday and Friday should be a little warmer, but with continuing sun, pleasant temperatures and low humidity.
"Looks like a pretty decent week here," Mr. Shaver said. "A little preview of early fall, I guess you might say."
Yesterday's late-afternoon winds, heavy rain and lightning knocked out electricity to about 15,000 Baltimore Gas & Electric Co. customers, mostly in Baltimore City, Howard and Harford counties, according to BGE spokeswoman Nancy Hooper Caplan. "Everybody should be back on before sunrise," she said.
Police in Baltimore and Howard counties reported minor street flooding and a few downed trees.
The most serious storm damage seemed to be in Carroll County, where lightning touched off a fire in a hay barn just after 4 p.m. at Shamrock Farms, a 600-acre thoroughbred farm in Winfield.
Firefighters from volunteer companies in Mount Airy, Lisbon and Winfield responded, but the barn was destroyed. No animals were injured, but farm manager Jim Steele said all the hay and straw stored for winter feed was lost.
It was the second time in 10 days that Shamrock has lost a barn to lightning. An August 11 fire at a Shamrock hay barn caused $30,000 damage, according to the state fire marshal's office.
Weather observers in Carroll measured 1.4 inches of rain in one ** hour during the storm, with frequent lightning and winds gusting to 35 mph and 40 mph.
State police said the rain, and speed too fast for conditions, were factors in a 6:30 p.m. accident in Hampstead that sent four people to area hospitals.
Trooper Craig Williams said Sean Wall, 16, of the 1800 block of Garrett Road in Manchester was northbound on Fairmount Road, just north of Farmwood Road, when his 1989 Eagle Summit began hydroplaning on a sharp downhill curve and struck a southbound 1991 Honda Accord head-on.
The driver of the Honda, Linda Marie Martin, 39, of Hanover, Pa., sustained chest, neck and back injuries. She was taken to Sinai Hospital in Baltimore, where she was listed last night in serious condition. Her passenger, Clara Martin, 73, of Upper Beckleysville, was taken by ambulance to the Maryland Shock-Trauma Center in Baltimore. She was listed in fair condition.
Mr. Wall and his passenger, Kerry Gambrill, 17, of Wil-Mar Avenue in Hampstead, were treated at Carroll County General Hospital and released. Mr. Wall was cited for negligent driving, police said.
Mr. Shaver said the storms and locally heavy rains were associated with a cold front that by 5 p.m. stretched from southeast Pennsylvania, through Cecil, Harford, Baltimore, Howard and Montgomery counties.
The rain canceled the final tattoo ceremony of the summer on the parade grounds of Fort McHenry in Baltimore. The traditional military ceremony was to have featured performances by the Marine Drum and Bugle Corps, the Marine Silent Drill Platoon and the volunteers of the Fort McHenry Guard.
Fort McHenry has held three tattoo ceremonies annually since 1965, said Paul Plamann, a National Park Service ranger. The previous one, which had been scheduled for last weekend, also was canceled because of rain.