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Posted at 6:44 PM ET, 08/ 5/2010

Storm scenes from around the region

By Washington Post editors

UPDATE:
Scenes from around the region:

Power is out in south Arlington near Potomac Yards where tree limbs have fallen in yards and traffic is backed up along Glebe Road.
-- Clarence Williams

John Lisle, a spokesman for the District Department of Transportation, said a highway sign blown down by the wind blocked traffic for a short time on the ramp from southbound I-295 to the Capital Beltway. No one was injured, he said.

Joan Morris, a spokesman for the Virginia Department of Transportation, said VDOT cameras lost power on I-395 between Alexandria and the District and along I-66 inside the Capital Beltway, signaling that traffic signals in those areas also could be out. Tree debris that fell onto I-295 in the Shirlington area was cleared by 6 p.m., she said.

“We do know it’s a nastier than normal rush hour,” Morris said.

Southbound George Washington Parkway was closed in Alexandria from a tree hitting a bus, police said.
--Katherine Shaver

At first, Lestina Kennedy, 45, said she was standing outside on the sidewalk along Comanche Drive and Shoshone Drive in Oxon Hill, "enjoying the cool rain" that came with Thursday's thunderstorm. Then the mood changed.

"The whole area became grayish, very grayish, and with a gust of wind I had never seen before," Kennedy said. "Honestly, the holy spirit said 'tornado,' and I got in the house."

It was just in time. Minutes later, Kennedy said, she heard a fierce wind and a crack. She emerged to find two massive tree branches in her front yard. Leafy and nearly as big as the house itself, they crashed into her gutter, took down power lines and crushed a bannister, fence and another tree.

"You see how the tree is charred. Lightning hit it twice," she said, gesturing at the area where the branches were severed. "I believe that God has saved us for real."

Kennedy said she, her husband, Kevin, 53, her grandmother, Katherine Matthews, 88, and her four children were home when the branch came down, but nobody was hurt.

"I'm grateful, because it could have happened a whole 'nother way," she said.
--Matt Zapotosky


Damage in Maryland appeared focused in Prince George's County, where power outages left many traffic signals dark, including at major intersections such as Route 4 and the Suitland Parkway.

Lora Rakowski, a spokeswoman for the Maryland State Highway Administration, said a ramp where I-295 intersects with I-95 near the Woodrow Wilson Bridge also was closed.

Road crews also were responding to calls for debris in the roads. With another round of thunderstorms expected Thursday evening, Rakowski said, “We'll be monitoring those very closely.”

Montgomery County had few significant traffic impacts beyond dark traffic signals from power outages along MacArthur Boulevard near the District line, police said. The intersection of Avery Road and Southlawn Lane in Rockville was closed briefly due to power lines down, police said.
--Katherine Shaver


Joe LaMountain, who works out of his Del Ray home, spent all afternoon on his front porch nervously eyeing a downed power line that had come down in a shower of sparks when his neighbor's enormous Silver Maple split in half and crashed onto a parked car and into the street.

"Hey! Hey!" He yelled at curious passersby. "Watch out for the downed power line!"

"I've been out keeping people away all afternoon. I don't know if it's live, but I don't want to take any chances," he said from his front porch during a lull in the storm when the downpour had become a light sprinkle. "I would hate for someone to touch it and be electrocuted right in front of my house."

"Park right there and come in through the sideyard," he told his wife as she drove up.

He'd called to report the downed wire to Dominion Power and to the Alexandria police. They told him they had several distress calls from the area and would come as soon as they could.

"Hey!" He yelled again to a neighbor, "Stay away from that powerline."
--Brigid Schulte

At least 50 trees down in Fairlington
6:18 p.m.

Some 50 trees came down in the Fairlington section of Arlington as a storm with winds of up to 70 mph came barreling through the county Thursday about 3:30 p.m., said Arlington emergency personnel.

Tony Castrilli, Alexandria's spokesman, said the Del Ray neighborhood seemed to have been particularly hit hard. Commonwealth Avenue, Russell Road and George Washington Parkway were shut down due to large, downed trees.

Aurora Hills library and Thomas Jefferson Community Center had to close because of a power outage. Alexandria police were taking numerous calls for trees and power lines down throughout the city. County spokeswoman Diana Sun said there were no known injuries in Arlington.

Both Arlington and Alexandria have activated emergency operations staff. Officials advise residents to stay inside and off roads if possible, especially since another storm was approaching.

To report a non-emergency in Arlington, call 703-558-2222. To report a non-emergency in Alexandria, call 703-838-4444. To report a tree fallen on a house, call 911. To report a power outage, call Dominion at 866-366-4357.

-- Christy Goodman

Va. man, daughter miss getting hit by tree
5:53 p.m

Hector Reyes and his 8-year old daughter, Sabrina, were in their car, just about to pull out of their driveway in the Del Ray neighborhood of Alexandria this afternoon when Sabrina announced she was hungry and wanted a snack.

The peanut butter sandwich Reyes ran into the house to make, he said, probably saved their lives.

"Just as I ran into the house, a big, strong wind came up and a huge tree branch fell right in front of my car," he said -- right where they would have been. If he'd pulled out of the driveway as he planned.

"My daughter was scared," he said. "Really scared."

Within minutes, Reyes said, he saw trees on his West Del Ray street split in half and come crashing down, in his backyard, in his front yard and all along his street -- one even split his neighbor's house in two. The powerful wind whipped his green plastic city trash can all the way down the street and halfway through the intersection of nearby Commonwealth Avenue. Electric wires, cables and downed telephone lines dangled all around his house like spaghetti.

Once he calmed his daughter and checked to make sure his neighbors were OK, Reyes said it was time to turn his attention to his dog, Molly.

"She's a Katrina dog," Reyes said. "Everytime there's a strong wind or a storm she gets all crazy."

-Brigid Schulte


Tree falls on vehicle in Pr. Geo's
5:14 p.m.

The thunderstorm hit hard in the Oxon Hill-Fort Washington area, downing dozens of trees and wires and igniting transformer fires, said Mark Brady, a spokesman for the Prince George's County Fire/EMS Department.

Reports are still preliminary, but Brady said paramedics are evaluating at least one patient who was in a vehicle when a tree fell on it in the 2700 block of Floral Park Drive in Fort Washington. Injuries appeared to be minor, he said.

Firefighters also responded to a tree crashing into a house in the 5800 block of Ottawa Street in Oxon Hill and were evaluating residents inside at the time to see if any needed medical care.

Brady said emergency responders are still working through a backlog of calls.

More information will be provided as it becomes available.

Stay with Postlocal.com for updates.


1 injured after tree falls on Pr. Geo. home
5:05 p.m.

A tree fell on a house with four people inside in the 5800 block of Ottawa Street in Oxon Hill, and one person had to be transported to the hospital, a Prince George's County Police spokesman said.

The incident occurred just before 4 p.m. No further details were available.

-- Matt Zapotosky

D.C. Fire and EMS was also reporting downed trees at MacArthur Boulevard and Loughboro Drive NW and in the 3300 block of Alabama Avenue SE.

Dr. Gridlock reports that flights scheduled to land at Reagan National Airport and Dulles may be delayed 75 to 90 minutes due to the severe thunderstorms sweeping the region.

And reporter Annie Gowen has sent in a photo showing how the storm uprooted trees and this lightpost on S. St Asash Street in Old Town Alexandria.
pole.jpg


Downed trees and power outages reported
4:49 p.m.

Fast moving storms began moving through the Washington region Thursday about 2 p.m. knocking out power, downing some trees and wreaking havoc on the roads.

U.S. Park Police Sgt. David Schlosser said an accident in volving a bus, some cars and some trees occurred in the southbound lanes of the George Washington Parkway near Slaters Lane, just south of Reagan National Airport.

Schlosser said it wasn't clear whether a tree fell on the vehicles or the trees fell and the vehicles drove into the trees. He said there may be a few people "banged up, but nothing life-threatening.

Motorists should expect traffic delays.

There are also reports of power outages, more than 90,000 throughout the region. About 60,500 of those outages are Dominion Power customers in Northern Virginia -- 45,000 alone in Arlington and Alexandria are without electricity.

Nearly 27,000 outages were reported in Prince George's County, according to Pepco, which has 30,000 customers total without electricity. About 3,600 outages were reported in the District, and 3,600 in Montgomery County. Baltimore Gas and Energy said that only 100 customers lost power following the storm.

-- Paul Duggan and Rick Rojas

Tree falls on bus near Reagan Airport
4:10 p.m.

A tree apparently fell on a bus in the southbound lanes of the George Washington Parkway near Slaters Lane, just south of Reagan National Airport, says U.S. Park Police Sgt. David Schlosser.

The incident occurred as strong storms began moving through the region Thursday afternoon. Power outages were being reported in Alexandria and Prince George's County.

Stay with Postlocal.com for more details.

By Washington Post editors  | August 5, 2010; 6:44 PM ET
 
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