Exiting storm trails wake of high winds, power outages

December 04, 2007|By Frank D. Roylance | Frank D. Roylance,Sun reporter

Cold winds whipping around in the wake of a departing storm system yesterday caught Marylanders in a swirl of blowing leaves and trash, power outages and highway wind restrictions.

Trees toppled in wind gusts as high as 51 mph in some locations, and the blustery weather was expected to continue into today.

Call it a prelude to more wintry weather tomorrow as an "Alberta Clipper" moves in with a dusting of snow here, and several inches in mountainous Western Maryland. But forecasters said things should improve after that.

"The overall weather pattern, which has been kind of brisk for a while now, is going to turn around, and slowly but surely evolve into milder weather this weekend and early next week," said Fred Gadomski, a meteorologist at Penn State Weather Communications.

The weekend forecast calls for sunny skies and highs near 50 degrees.

The wind in Baltimore began picking up after sunrise yesterday. At The Sun's weather station at Calvert and Centre streets, it blew out of the west at 7 to 10 mph throughout the morning, with gusts from 12 to 28 mph.

Temperatures fell from 51 degrees after sunrise, down through the 40s by day's end. For those on the city sidewalks, waiting for the bus or hurrying to and from work, the combined effects of wind and cold made it feel more like the 30s.

It was even windier in more open locations, with gusts up to 47 mph at BWI Marshall Airport shortly after 10 a.m. Andrews Air Force Base recorded a gust of 49 mph just before 11 a.m., while a wind gauge in Hanover Hills, Anne Arundel County, recorded 51 mph at 11:14 a.m.

School officials blamed high winds for power outages that shut down Arundel High School in Gambrills and the Center for Applied Technology-North in Severn at midday. Power was restored later, according to BGE.

In Dundalk, four people waiting at a bus stop last night were slightly injured and treated at hospitals after wind caused a Plexiglas-and-metal shelter to collapse like a house of cards.

The Maryland Transportation Authority posted high-wind cautions during the morning for motorists crossing the Bay Bridge, the Key Bridge over the Patapsco River and other bridges across the Susquehanna and Patuxent rivers.

Authorities imposed wind restrictions on the Bay Bridge just before 11 a.m., and on the Key Bridge after noon, but operations at BWI were not affected, aviation officials said.

High winds did bring down trees, limbs and power lines across the region. BGE said it had restored power to more than 28,000 customers by 6:30 p.m., with another 2,300 still waiting. Most of the outages were in Harford and Prince George's counties.

BGE spokeswoman Linda Foy said customers should report any power outage and not assume some else has already done it. "It helps us pinpoint the size and scope of the outage," she said. It may also identify individual service lines that are down.

Gadomski said the high winds were stirred up by the rain and snowstorm that struck the Great Lakes states and the Northeast over the weekend.

Gale warnings were in effect for yesterday and today on the Chesapeake and the tidal Potomac River.

frank.roylance@baltsun.com

Sun reporters Richard Irwin, Madison Park, Josh Mitchell and Lauren Brown contributed to this article.

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