A wind-whipped rainstorm, part of a brawny system hammering the Northeast, swept into Baltimore and its surrounding counties with a bang yesterday, knocking over trees and utility poles and leaving more than 46,000 Baltimore Gas and Electric Co. customers around the state without electricity.
In Baltimore Harbor, a car-carrying ship broke free from its dock in the rough weather while being unloaded and drifted off, a Coast Guard spokeswoman said. Tugboat operators were still trying to secure the ship, which broke loose from a terminal in the Fairfield area, in the late evening.
"It's still out there in the harbor," said a tugboat dispatcher who identified himself as Brian.
In Parkville, a 100-foot radio tower crashed to the ground on Old Harford Road, a dispatcher for the Baltimore County Fire Department said. No one was injured.
The dispatcher said the department had been "very busy" at midafternoon, handling reports of downed trees and utility wires.
In St. Mary's County, a tree fell onto a house in Lexington Park, causing significant damage to the roof, the National Weather Service reported. Another tree crashed through the roof of a house on Daisy Road in Woodbine, Howard County; no one was injured.
In Edgewater, four miles south of Annapolis, a roof was blown off a building and numerous trees were toppled, the weather service site said.
The turbulent weather made a mess of airline travel in the area. In late afternoon, a woman who had left Mumbai, India, 20 hours earlier on an Emirates flight via Dubai to New York found herself waiting with her fellow passengers on a runway for more than three hours at Baltimore-Washington International Thurgood Marshall Airport, where the plane had been diverted.
The passengers were not allowed to disembark at Baltimore, and grew impatient waiting for word on whether the plane would go on to New York.
"We have no clue what's going on," the exhausted woman told The Sun by cell phone. "I'm sure everybody's upset, but everyone's trying to be civil."
The phone connection was lost before the woman, a Stamford, Conn., resident, could give her name.
Electrical outages were widespread. About 11,500 BGE customers in Baltimore County were without power for at least part of the afternoon, and about 4,100 lost power in Baltimore. About 10,350 households lost power for a time in Carroll County, the utility said.
A severe-storm watch was in effect until 5:15 p.m., the weather service said. Wind gusts of almost 50 mph swept through the region as cold air from the northwest encountered warmer air coming from the south.
Howard Silverman, a National Weather Service forecaster, said such weather patterns are not uncommon in the region in March, along with the strong winds they usually bring.
"We had quite a few reports of winds in the 45- to 55-mph range," Silverman said. "The winds were really on the strong side."
Reagan National Airport in Washington reported a gust of 60 mph at 4:21 p.m., the strongest in the region. BWI reported a gust of almost 50 mph.
At one point last night, a temperature of 18 degrees was reported in Oakland, in Western Maryland, and several inches of snow were expected.
Forecasters were predicting a second round of strong winds last night and this morning, and they posted wind advisories until 5 a.m. today. Western Maryland was under a winter weather advisory, and coastal areas were being warned of flooding caused by the wind and thunderstorms.
The wind is expected to subside this morning, and clear skies and highs in the 40s are expected.