Storms swept out of the Ohio Valley and across Central Maryland last night, with spectacular lightning, bursts of heavy rain and wind gusts that downed trees, knocked out power and damaged homes.
Beginning about 8 p.m., the storms heavily soaked some areas. Lightning struck houses in Anne Arundel County, but no injuries were reported.
"The lightning was so bright, it lit up the whole restaurant," said Katie McNerney, a server at O'Brien's Oyster Bar and Restaurant in Annapolis, about a block from the State House. "The thunder was deafening. Every time there was thunder everyone would jump."
"We had intense, very brilliant, vivid lightning," said Jim Wiesmueller, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Sterling, Va. "It was a brilliant flash and then earth-shaking cracks of thunder. The classic. Very dangerous."
About 10 p.m., Baltimore Gas and Electric Co. reported power outages affecting about 36,000 customers. Anne Arundel County and a small neighboring portion of Prince George's served by BGE were hardest hit, with 16,000 losing power, largely because of lightning striking transformers, while Baltimore had 12,000 and Baltimore County had 6,000, said spokesman Arthur Liebno.
In Prince George's, the storm hit with fury between Brandywine and Upper Marlboro just before 9 p.m., damaging about 500 homes -- with as many as 20 sustaining major damage from trees falling on roofs, said county fire spokesman Chauncey Bowers.
In Baltimore County, two houses in Dundalk -- on Denbury Drive and Rettman Lane -- were hit by lightning, but no injuries, serious damage or fires occurred, said county fire Lt. Bill Johns.
Sun staff writer Richard Irwin and the Associated Press contributed to this article.