Rain brings relief to heat but does little for drought

Minor accidents increase

many left without power

August 15, 1999|By Anne Haddad | Anne Haddad,SUN STAFF

A band of severe thunderstorms blew east across Maryland yesterday afternoon, knocking out power, downing trees and setting off a rash of minor accidents -- but bringing no substantial drought relief.

One area of north Baltimore County got 1.85 inches while isolated parts of Baltimore County got no rain at all.

Things won't get much better anytime soon, weather forecasters said yesterday.

"If you didn't get it this time, then you're out of luck -- no more rain. That's it for five to 10 days," said Dewey Walston, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Sterling, Va.

Walston said 1.15 inches of rainfall was recorded at Fort McHenry, and 1.85 in the Fullerton area of north Baltimore County. He recorded no rain in Westview.

Brookeville farmer Bob Stabler recorded 0.3 inches of rain. "It didn't do squat," said a disappointed Stabler, whose Montgomery County grain and livestock operation is suffering in the drought.

Temperatures are expected to be in the 80s today.

The storm formed when a cold front came in from the north and central United States, meeting the hot, moist air, Walston said.

The thunder, lightning and heavy rain brought a dramatic climax to a day that had become progressively hotter, hitting a high of 93 just before clouds formed over the Baltimore area about 3: 45 p.m. The resulting deluge sent the temperature down to 73, Walston said.

By sundown, the temperature had climbed up to 76 with 90 percent humidity.

The storm continued west and south along the Chesapeake Bay as the evening progressed.

At least 61,245 Baltimore Gas and Electric Co. customers were without power across Central Maryland as downed trees and branches felled lines and utility poles tumbled.

The bulk of the power outages were in Baltimore, Cockeysville and Glen Burnie, said Rose Muhlhausen, BGE spokeswoman.

By 9 p.m., five hours after the storm, 53,000 customers were still without power, Muhlhausen said. Work to restore power by the 15 regular weekend crews and 42 additional emergency crews was expected to last into late this morning, she said.

The highest concentration of power outages was in Annapolis, with 20,000 powerless customers, Muhlhausen said. Baltimore had 18,000 customers and Baltimore County had 11,500 without power. Carroll, Harford and Howard counties each had between 200 and 3,000 customers without power, Muhlhausen said.

State and local police said they recorded an increase in minor accidents during the downpour.

The rain cut short filming at Ravens Stadium of a movie called "The Replacements," starring Keanu Reeves and Gene Hackman. Filming of the crowd scenes at the stadium was to resume today.

As the rain began falling yesterday afternoon, the stadium's giant screens instructed the crowd of more than 2,000 extras who had been sitting in the heat all morning and afternoon to go inside to the concourse.

The crowd lingered in the concourse to await the remaining prize drawings, ranging from $10,000 cash to memorabilia and T-shirts.

"The party did go on," said Michael Singer, a publicist for the movie.

Sun staff writer Tamara Ikenberg contributed to this article.

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