Storm knocks out power, downs trees across state

July 29, 1999|By Rafael Alvarez | Rafael Alvarez,SUN STAFF

A late afternoon thunderstorm that hit Maryland from the Potomac River to the upper reaches of the Chesapeake Bay yesterday downed trees and dumped a little more than an inch of rain in parts of Baltimore County.

The storm, which weakened as it moved east, hit Allegany County about 4 p.m. and moved over the bay shortly after 7 p.m. It was accompanied by lightning and winds between 50 mph and 60 mph.

The combination of lightning striking utility transformers and tree limbs heavy with rain falling on power lines caused an estimated 42,000 Baltimore Gas and Electric Co. customers in the metropolitan area to lose electricity by 6: 15 p.m.

More than half of the outages were in Baltimore County, where the town of Butler recorded 1.07 inches of rain. A spokesman for BGE said all power was expected to be restored by midmorning today.

The storm took the edge off the heat -- which hit a high of 94 degrees at Baltimore-Washington International Airport at 12: 21 p.m. -- and lowered the temperature to 71 degrees at 7 p.m., said Dewey Walston, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service.

The relief was temporary, however, with temperatures expected in the mid-90s today, Walston said.

As the wind and rain swept the Carroll and Frederick county border between 4: 30 p.m. and 5: 30 p.m., volunteer firefighters responded to dozens of calls for brush fires, utility pole fires, fallen trees and downed electrical wires.

No serious injuries were reported.

"Everybody [in Maryland] got a little bit of rain," said Walston. "There was a lot of heavy rain, but no hail. It traveled at about 35 mph, and by the time it got to Baltimore we were no longer calling it a severe storm."

In Howard County, at Columbia's Merriweather Post Pavilion, as thousands gathered for the Lilith Fair concert headlined by Sarah McLachlan, the first crack of thunder prompted a collective gasp and fears that the show would be canceled.

The show, however, went on.

Sun staff writers Mike Farabaugh, Nancy A. Youssef and Richard Irwin contributed to this article.

Pub Date: 7/29/99

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