Fast-moving storm hits state with rain, lightning, high wind

Falling tree limbs blamed for loss of electricity to 77,000 BGE customers

May 26, 2004|By Lynn Anderson and Richard Irwin | Lynn Anderson and Richard Irwin,SUN STAFF

A fast-moving storm from the west -- the tip of a cold front that could bring more stormy weather today -- pummeled Maryland with rain, lightning and high winds yesterday evening.

Tree limbs falling on power lines were chiefly blamed for power outages that affected about 77,000 Central Maryland customers of Baltimore Gas and Electric Co. Businesses on U.S. 1 in Elkridge had to shut down for several hours because they had no power.

Fire officials in several jurisdictions reported houses and buildings hit by lightning. A house in the 3300 block of Bridleridge Lane in Brooklandville caught fire after it was hit, but no one was injured, Baltimore County officials said.

"This was the head of a cold front that we had been expecting for days," said Brian Guyer, a National Weather Service meteorologist. "And it's not over yet."

Guyer said that the core of the storm -- which dropped 5 inches of rain in parts of the Midwest recently -- is expected to settle over Maryland today. But even yesterday's round of storms soaked some areas of the state.

The system of swirling clouds, and in some areas an eerie greenish light, reached Baltimore about 7:30 p.m., releasing a half-inch of rain in about 15 minutes, Guyer said. Western Maryland took the brunt, with 2 inches of rain reported in Frederick County. State police reported several car accidents there because of wet roads.

"I tell you, you couldn't see 10 feet in front of you because it was hailing up here," said Karl Kohler, assistant manager of the Hagerstown Light Department, describing the scene outside his office at the local power company when the storm hit Hagerstown about 5:15 p.m.

Kohler said the wind toppled "a lot of old, large oak trees," some of which fell on power lines. About 1,500 customers were affected by power outages, he said, but by 9:30 p.m. most of the lights were back on.

At 11 p.m., BGE reported 35,000 customers out -- mostly in Baltimore city and county. Anne Arundel and Harford counties each had about 4,000 customers in the dark at 10 p.m.

The good news? The storm seemed to have silenced the cicadian symphony, at least for a few hours.

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