Storm knocks out power, delays sporting events

Line of showers sweeps through

outages affect 45,000 BGE customers

August 26, 2007|By Jennifer Skalka and Gadi Dechter | Jennifer Skalka and Gadi Dechter,Sun reporters

Thunderstorms rumbled through the area last night, cutting power to thousands of homes, sending fans scrambling for cover at sporting events and otherwise dampening events across the region.

Severe storm warnings were issued for 16 Maryland counties as a line of rain showers and lightning moved through Frederick and Montgomery counties, the Baltimore area and out into the Chesapeake Bay.

About 45,000 customers of BGE were without power shortly after the storm, with the greatest outages reported in Anne Arundel County.

The weather also delayed the Ravens' preseason game against the Washington Redskins last night in Landover.

The storm reached FedEx Field about a half-hour before the 8 p.m. scheduled start, and the Redskins asked fans to leave their seats and take cover at 7:24 p.m. The players returned to the locker room.

The weather worsened at 7:45 p.m. After a series of loud claps of thunder, the lights went off several times at FedEx.

The weather cleared, however, and the game kicked off at 9:11 p.m., only to be halted for good in the third quarter when lightning was spotted in the area and a bank of lights went out. The game was officially called at 11:58 p.m.

Earlier, at Oriole Park, B.J. Surhoff didn't let the storm halt his induction into the Orioles Hall of Fame. He spoke as lightning flashed, the wind swirled and team employees began removing the plants and flowers from the stage so they wouldn't blow away.

The Orioles game, scheduled to begin at 7:15 p.m., didn't get under way until 9:06 p.m.

Lightning also suspended play at an Inner Harbor volleyball tournament, sending athletes in their swimsuits fleeing for cover under a pergola in Rash Field. But as the rain slowed to a trickle a band struck up and the soaked players headed for a nearby beer truck for an end-of-season celebration.

Todd G. Webster, the founder of Baltimore Beach, said: "Rain never stops us." He vowed that the tournament would continue, even on waterlogged sand.

As of 11 p.m. yesterday, BGE reported that power had been restored to all but 32,000 customers. About 15,000 of those were in Anne Arundel County, compared with 5,000 homes in the city, 7,000 in Baltimore County and 990 in Howard County.

PEPCO reported about 2,700 customers still without power in Maryland late last night, most of them in Prince George's County.

A National Weather Service spokesman said the high in Baltimore yesterday was 96 degrees, just under the 97-degree record set in 1968. Slightly cooler temperatures are expected over the next few days.

"We're not going to be quite as warm as we were today," Rick Winther, a National Weather Service meteorologist, said last night.

Baltimore temperatures will hover around 90 degrees today, and are expected to drop to the mid-80s tomorrow, Winther said.

jennifer.skalka@baltsun.com gadi.dechter@baltsun.com

Sun reporters Jamison Hensley and Roch Kubato contributed to this article.

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