Storm in D.C. kills bicyclist, forces evacuation of Capitol lawn

With trees down, public not allowed to attend Sunday evening Fourth of July concert rehearsal

July 04, 2011|By Scott Calvert and Susan Reimer, The Baltimore Sun

A violent thunderstorm swept through the area on Sunday afternoon, resulting in the death of a cyclist on the C&O tow path in Washington, causing power outages and prompting police to clear the west lawn of the U.S. Capitol, where the National Symphony Orchestra was preparing to hold a public rehearsal of its Independence Day concert.

Police confirmed that a middle-aged man was killed when a tree apparently fell along the tow path and knocked him off his bicycle.

And BGE reported that about 16,000 people were left without power after the storm, mostly in Baltimore City and others in Howard, Arundel and Prince George's counties. All but about 1,000 customers had been restored by Monday morning, a BGE spokesman said.

People were ushered into the Senate and House parking garages around 6:15 because of unsafe conditions created by torrential downpours, powerful winds and lightning, said Sgt. Kimberly Schneider, spokeswoman for the U.S. Capitol Police.

"It was outrageous," she said. Winds were so strong that she thought her car door would snap off its hinges, she said. An unknown number of trees were down on the Capitol grounds. Schneider was not aware of any injuries, but with more stormy weather forecast, it was "not prudent" to let the public attend the concert rehearsal, scheduled for 8 p.m.

Scott Calvert and Susan Reimer

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